Israel Eats

  • Review
By – May 3, 2016

Pho­tog­ra­ph­er Steven Roth­feld and well-known chef Nan­cy Sil­ver­ton pro­vide an inti­mate por­trait of the Israel through its cui­sine. A coun­try of diverse cul­tures and youth­ful enthu­si­asm, Israel offers great oppor­tu­ni­ties for inven­tive chefs. Much more than a cook­book, this vol­ume takes read­ers on a tour of each region and intro­duces them to chefs, farm­ers, wine­mak­ers, cheese­mak­ers, mar­kets, and restau­ra­teurs in the deep­est cor­ners of the country. 

Each chap­ter includes infor­ma­tion about a region of Israel, as well as inter­views with chefs and food pro­duc­ers in which the enthu­si­asm, ded­i­ca­tion, and cre­ativ­i­ty of those involved in con­tem­po­rary Israeli cui­sine. Inter­est­ing com­bi­na­tions are high­light­ed, such as the addi­tion of beets in Knafeh, a clas­sic Mid­dle East­ern dessert, and a stuffed cab­bage cake” that is a main dish. Read­ers will meet Arabs and Jews who work togeth­er to grow and pro­duce delec­table dish­es such as Siniya of Sea Bass and Tahi­ni-Hon­ey Ice Cream with Almond Crum­ble. Although these are recipes devel­oped by pro­fes­sion­al chefs, expe­ri­enced home cooks will have no dif­fi­cul­ty prepar­ing them; the only prob­lem may be tak­ing the over­sized vol­ume into the kitchen — and wor­ry­ing about spilling food on Rothfeld’s beau­ti­ful col­or photographs!

The recipes fea­ture fresh local pro­duce and the many exot­ic spices found in the cook­ing of the Mid­dle East. Condi­ments such as haris­sa and zhug and spice blends such as ras el hanout and za’atar are read­i­ly avail­able in most places or can be pur­chased online. Orange and Black Olive Sal­ad with Haris­sa and Salmon Roll with Pick­led Fen­nel will please many, but the Galilean Kugel with Bacon, Falafel Shrimp with Egg­plant Spread, and the Man­ti (lamb dumplings) with Toma­to Sal­sa and Yogurt are not fit­ting for the kosher-observant.

Israel Eats will inspire cooks to cre­ate. It will also encour­age every­one to vis­it Israel to expe­ri­ence a vibrant cul­ture and deli­cious food firsthand.

Relat­ed Content:

Bar­bara M. Bibel is a librar­i­an at the Oak­land Pub­lic Library in Oak­land, CA; and at Con­gre­ga­tion Netiv­ot Shalom, Berke­ley, CA.

Discussion Questions