Delicious Israel: My Culinary Adventure in the Holy Land

I recently returned from the most epic adventure in the beautiful and magical land of Israel. I can still smell the fragrant spices and taste the sweet dates and salty olives. From the most aromatic coffee to the freshest cucumbers and creamiest labne, my trip to Israel has left a deliciously indelible imprint in my belly and soul.
One of the many pleasures in this life is getting to travel and experience the cuisines and food cultures of other lands. Discovery and wonder is what keeps that childlike like curiosity alive within us. Combine that with a love for food and a penchant for adventure and you’ve got yourself a recipe for fun and plenty of magic! So if you’re thinking about that trip, don’t wonder too long because life doesn’t wait for anyone.
I arrived with an open heart and mind and to my delight made so many beautiful connections, created special memories and experienced the most amazing sensory overload.
So what is Israeli cuisine? Well there isn’t a short answer and the question is open to debate. Regional influences from neighboring countries, Eastern European recipes, local ingredients, North African and Middle Eastern flavors, creativity of local chefs all shape what is Israeli cuisine, in my opinion. As soon as I arrived in Tel Aviv I had to satisfy my craving for “sabich” a sandwich based on a traditional Jewish Iraqi dish. I salivated as I watched them assemble the eggplant, boiled eggs, amba, and fresh veggies into the fluffiest pita. What about the hummus debate? Its origins date back to Egypt and Palestine. But does it really matter? I think the point here is that good food and sitting down to break bread together has the power to dissolve animosity and in turn foster love and peace.
I loved walking through the loud and colorful markets that are filled with local produce, sweets and baked goods (can we talk about the Knafeh?!)I was like a kid in a candy store (literally) each time I passed a bin of rainbow spices in shuk Carmel, Levinsky Market and Mahane Yeduda market. It definitely beats shopping at a grocery store!
Living like a local allows you to experience life in a magical way. I had the pleasure of staying in the most charming home in Old Jaffa- one of the oldest and beautiful ports in Tel Aviv. My AirBnB host happens to be an amazing vegan chef who hosts dinners and culinary tours around the world. She introduced me to some of the most incredible flavors and taught me to make the yummiest dumplings! Thankfully I was so active and explored the city by foot most of the time. I love that there isn’t an obsession here with diet culture as there is in the US. Most people take great joy in eating and life in general. Living near the sea and having sunshine almost daily helps of course..but food and sustenance is a basic and most pleasurable part of life.
Food is one thing but the people and friendly faces behind the dish are what complete the experience. In Israel I feel people live for today. They are direct and authentic in a way that enables real connection. I love that there is an unspoken understanding of the importance of Shabbat-day of rest. Whether you are religious or not there is a beautiful sense of community around the idea of gathering with family, friends and loved ones to enjoy meals together. Life slows down and reminds us that what’s most important are the experiences and connections we make in life. A delicious meal is the cherry on top!
I hope that this inspires you to explore and discover life in your own way. Wishing you all magical adventures and Healthy Cravings!