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eG Foodblog: Swisskaese - The Israeli Table - Not Just Felafel and Or


Susan in FL
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I am pleased to welcome you to Swisskaese's second eG foodblog. Click here to view the previous blog brought to us by her and Tapenade.

This very interesting foodblog was long in the planning. In fact, Swisskaese was scheduled to do this blog many weeks before the mideast crisis was taking place as close to her home as it is now. It is because of the unrest that she and I decided for me to post the opening to her blog.

Under these circumstances, there might be an increased potential for viewers to post politics-related comments or questions, or post something that would lead discussion in that direction (perhaps unintentionally). I remind us all to follow the eG Society's policies and guidelines. Please pay particular attention to the Decorum and Topicality Guidelines and give much consideration to what you post, in order to maintain a focus on issues pertaining to food and drink.

Please understand that the blog will be closely monitored. We will moderate as necessary to maintain the focus on our core subject of food and to assure that it remains civil.

We hope you enjoy this very special eG foodblog.

Swisskaese's country's terrain is made up of five vegetation zones: Euro-Siberian, with plantlife found in Europe, Russia and Siberia; Mediterranean, with conditions similar to those in other countries on the Sea; Irano-Turanian, with land similar to the steppe-lands that stretch through Iran, Turkestan and Inner Asia to Inner Mongolia; Sahara-Arabian, pure desert of the kind found in the Sahara, the Arabian Peninsula and parts of southern Iran; and Sudanese, which has tropical vegetation, confined to small enclaves and oases. This widely diverse landscape offers ideal home environments for a particularly rich assortment of plant, animal, bird and insect life.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Boker tov (Good Morning) everyone.

I would like to thank Susan for starting this blog this morning.

As Susan explained, I was suppose to do this blog in June, but due to personal circumstances, I had to postpone. When everything began, I consulted with Susan about whether to cancel or not and I decided I would carry on. I want you to know that this is not a celebration of any type. There is nothing to celebrate at the moment. But, I am going to try and show you a variety of food cultures that make up the Israeli table. It is not fancy food; it is comfort food.

I would like to add that you can ask me questions at anytime, but let's try and keep it to food issues.

So, I hope you will join me in discovering the Israeli Table.

Let me begin with explaining where I live. I live 50 miles south of Haifa, 10 miles north of Tel Aviv and 4 miles west of the West Bank. It is a town of 45,000 people which is made up of four former farming communities. As I explained in my previous blog, there are still some orange groves in the middle of town. And, there are small moshavim (cooperative villages) that grow fruits, vegetables and flowers five minutes from my house. Last blog they were growing strawberries. This blog, I am going to take some pictures and see if we can figure out together what they are growing now.

Shortly, I will show you what I am having for breakfast and then later I will take you to Jerusalem where you will meet this man and see Mahane Yehuda Market:

gallery_28660_3420_25206.jpg

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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I will add a picture later, but this morning I had sheep yogurt with walnuts and carob honey that I buy from a lovely woman who comes every weekend from the North to sell her honey at a local food fair. I will show you the food fair on Friday.

But just as a teaser, I am going to show you a typical Israeli kitchen......

gallery_28660_3420_48857.jpg

This kitchen belonged to someone famous in Israeli history. Any guesses?

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Hi, Swisskaese! I'm delighted to see the start of your blog. :smile:

The Mehane Yehuda market is one of the places we didn't get to, before leaving, so I'm looking forward to your photos--and to the week's feast!

Is that Chaim Weizmann's kitchen? :wink: (It looks a lot like my old one; I miss the giant sinks and all the counter space!)

Chol tov!

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Hi, Swisskaese! I'm delighted to see the start of your blog. :smile:

The Mehane Yehuda market is one of the places we didn't get to, before leaving, so I'm looking forward to your photos--and to the week's feast!

Is that Chaim Weizmann's kitchen?  :wink: (It looks a lot like my old one; I miss the giant sinks and all the counter space!)

Chol tov!

Hi Rehovot,

I am really sorry we missed meeting each other in Israel. But, there is a trip to Prague in my future.

No, it is not Chaim Weizman's kitchen, but you are definitely in the right direction.

This kitchen is actually a step up from old Israeli kitchens. The typical kitchen had a hotplate and no oven. People would cook their meals in something called the "Wonderpot". I will try and take a picture of one. They would make soup, meat, vegetables and dessert in this one pot.

Then, tabletop oven became available and some people still have this setup, tabletop stove and oven. The table top ovens are a little larger than American toaster ovens.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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Umm...someone who's kitchen was famous? A lady named Golda, maybe?

Miriam

Hi Miriam,

No, it is not Golda, but you are on the right track.

Miriam, my David :wub: and I met for the first time on Friday. We had a Israeli eGullet brunch at a very nice dairy restaurant. I will tell you more about it in due course. Here is a preview of our visit:

gallery_28660_3420_11932.jpg

Miriam is a lovely person and very interesting. She makes Meade and fruit wines and she gave me some of her sourdough starter. I am currently looking for recipes. Anyone have any suggestions?

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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No, it is not Golda, but you are on the right track.

David Ben Gurion's home in Sde Boker?

Yes. That is correct. As your prize, is there anything you would like to see foodwise?

David Ben Gurion was the first prime minister of Israel

Sde Boker is located in the Negev which is in southern Israel. I will write more about this later. I have to go back to work. :rolleyes:

While you are waiting, and especially for all those scientists out there, take a look at the Sde Boker website.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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I'd like to see some photos of the shouk in Tel Aviv this week if possible. No pressure!

And some swanky outdoor restaurants on Dizengoff Street. Seriously, no pressure. :biggrin:

Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I'd like to see some photos of the shouk in Tel Aviv this week if possible. No pressure! :)

I just happen to have some photos, just for you Jason. :-)

I will post them when I get home.

I don't have any plans to go to a swanky restaurant this week. How about goose shwarma?

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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I definitely want to see goose shwerma! Anything else you care to show us will be welcome as well!

Are the orange groves in town disappearing because of population growth and development of housing? I remember that when I went away to college in Southern California, I could easily walk to orange groves my first year when I felt homesick. By the time I graduated the only groves left were far enough away to require a bicycle ride.

Thank you for blogging this week, Michelle!

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Mahane Yehuda is the largest outdoor/indoor market in the middle of Jerusalem; outside of the old city. It was established in 1928 and named after the neighborhood where it is located.

It is hopping on Thursday night and Friday because people come there to buy items to prepare their Sabbath meal on Friday night. You are all invited to my home on Friday for a Sabbath meal.

This market has gone through a revitalisation (not exactly aesthetically) in the last few years. You will find cafes, restaurants and specialty shops in and around the market. Some of the shop keepers have been there for 40 years. Others are second generation who have opened more modern cafes and specialty shops.

Before entering the market, Tapenade and I saw a famous Jerusalem institution, Sima. Sima is a very simple restaurant that is famous for its Jerusalem Grill. What is Jerusalem Grill? It is chicken hearts, livers and spleens and bits of lamb fried with generous amounts of onion and garlic and a secret mixture of spices. Hopefully Daniel Rogov will chime in and explain that secret mixture. He is going to be upset with me when I say that I don't like innards. So, I don't have a picture of it for you.

gallery_28660_3420_106473.jpg

I only went to a small portion of the market. You can find just about every culture represented in this market. And an example of this is the sweet Amba man:

gallery_28660_3420_25299.jpg

This nice Iraqi man sells pickled vegetables and something that is very important in the Iraqi diet, Amba. Amba is a condiment made from pickled mangoes. It is a liquidy spread that is traditionally put on Sabich. Sabich is a breakfast pita served traditionally on Saturday morning filled with:

peeled fried eggplant

hard-boiled eggs (browned)

Hummus

Tahini

Simple vegetable (tomato and cucumber) salad

Amba (condiment) (a mango pickle)

chili sauce (optional)

Minced onion

Amba is also great on felafel and shwarma.

More to come.

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Are you saying the Amba itself is sweet or the guy selling it is really nice?

I had my first taste of Amba and my first Sabich this week. I certainly would not call the Amba I tried "sweet". Actually I was expecting it to be a little sweet because its made of mangoes... but nope! It's got to be the strongest tasting pickle I have ever seen.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Are you saying the Amba itself is sweet or the guy selling it is really nice?

I had my first taste of Amba and my first Sabich this week. I certainly would not call the Amba I tried "sweet". Actually I was expecting it to be a little sweet because its made of mangoes... but nope! It's got to be the strongest tasting pickle I have ever seen.

I meant the sweet man. You are absolutely right, it is not sweet at all and it is an acquired taste. Some people say it is an acquired taste like vegemite. Don't get me started on vegemite. Sorry to all you Aussies out there.

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