Saturday, May 14, 2016

What is Israeli Cuisine?

In a new documentary a Jewish American Michael Solomonov, a James Beard Award winning chef and co-owner of acclaimed restaurant Zahav in Philadelphia
is the host who travels to Israel "In Search of Israeli Cuisine".  

I got a chance to see Canadian premiere of this documentary at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival (TJFF) and enjoyed every minute of this film.  It is kind of like a less edgy Anthony Bourdain style travel film where Michael Solomonov is the Anthony Bourdain who takes you through different places in Israel and discusses with Chefs at different restaurants and locals what the origins of their food is and what exactly is Israeli food or is there such a thing.  Some of the experts say of course there is and others say that there isn't an Israeli cuisine because what is eaten is Israel is influenced by Sephardic and Eshkanazi jews and other residents who bring food from their roots from Poland, Spain, Morocco, Iraq and all of the surrounding countries which are many.
The one thing that most of them all have in common seems to be Pita or some version of it and Hummus or some version of that.  They must have said hummus at least 20 times in the film and by the end of the movie I had a serious craving for hummus and pita.

I have never been to Israel even though my parents were married there.  I really enjoyed the films look at the different regions in Israel and the comparison of the modern Tel Aviv versus some of the smaller areas around Israel.
This film is a mix of travel, food porn and politics.  You wouldn't think food would be political but it is.  They say that some people stole their food.  Can you really call developing similar recipes stealing?  Either way it seems to me that the food eaten in Israel is a hodge podge of different european influences from eastern european to the more exotic and spicy foods.  I grew up similar to this with my mother having Polish heritage and my dad having Greek heritage and their influences of having lived in Israel, Belgium and their birth countries and the mix of influences from their friends all developed my own palate from the food that my mother prepared when I was young.

This film will make you hungry so find your local Israeli or Middle Eastern restaurant nearby where ever you see this film because  you are going to want to go out and eat some hummus and pita and eggplant by the end of the film.

I can only imagine how good the food at Solomonov's restaurant Zahav is after eating food all over Israel.  I hope to have the chance to go there one day.

Get you appetite and your passport ready for this film.

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