After approximately three months of drooling over foodie blogs, reviews, websites (especially TasteTLV.com) and Facebook mobile uploads of Israeli cuisine, I have finally arrived in the homeland, ready to indulge in the rich culture and cuisine! At the beginning of July 2011, I made my decision to explore the profundity of life in Israel through a five-month internship program. Career Israel, a MASA program, offers recent university graduates the opportunity to work in internships in their respective fields while immersing themselves in the beauty and magic of Israel. Accompanied by ninety-five international participants, I feel a sense of gratitude to be able to experience the tastes, sights, and sounds of our Jewish homeland together.
Having recently graduated from UCLA with a degree in Global Studies, I have always had a penchant for things of an international nature, particularly food. Coming from a Moroccan family in the heart of Los Angeles, my palate already yearns for exotic flavors. For Shabbat and other meals, my grandmother always prepares a colorful array of salads, including traditional Israeli salad, carrots with cumin, beets with shallots, corn with avocado and freshly squeezed lemon juice among others. However, the couscous and spicy salmon with chickpeas usually play starring roles. At Passover, my grandmother prepares my favorite meal of the entire year. By my special request, she makes roasted lamb, yet instead of a savory preparation, she makes it sweet with prunes, almonds, and caramelized onions oozing with sugary juices. Needless to say, my childhood and young adulthood have prepped my palate for my culinary excursions in Israel. Having been here for a month now, I can finally share my Israeli foodie experiences with you.
So, of course, upon disembarking the plane, I immediately craved to sink my teeth into some Israeli falafel seeping with Mediterranean olive oil. Encased in a fluffy, heavenly pita, this falafel was perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Fresh from the fryer, the hotcakes’ heat almost melted the hummus and tahini, creating a warm flavor sensation. This contrast with the crunch of cucumber-tomato-onion trifecta of Israeli salad sealed the deal for me and fulfilled my craving.
And, naturally, I had to make friends with the falafel stand people…
If you know me, these types of encounters are not unusual…
After spending four days with the Career Israel group in Jerusalem, we moved to our new home, TEL AVIV! Ever since our arrival, I have created a balanced routine of early morning runs by the beach to fuel my appetite for the day’s tasty adventures!
That’s all for now, but I will be back soon to fill you in on the most amazing cuisine in Tel Aviv!
Wishing you a week of smiles, sabich, and simcha,