Israeli Eats!

September 1, 2012

I recently visited the holy land, aka Israel, for a 10 day trip called Birthright Israel. For those of you unfamiliar with Birthright, the trip is offered to American Jews ages 18-26 who have never been to Israel on a peer-led trip. Since I was nearing the end of my eligibility for this trip, I took advantage of the opportunity and went on this amazing journey with 40+ others from the Chicago area.

While the main focus of the trip was not food, I couldn't visit Israel without capturing some of the most delicious and unique treats I've ever experienced. I can't wait to return to explore some new cities as well as more of the fabulous cuisine. The only downside is now that I'm back home, no hummus, falafel or shwarma quite compares (except for Pita Inn, in my opinion!). From sushi to shwarma, I was impressed with the quality, freshness and variety of Israel food. The portions everywhere we went were gigantic, which surprised me. I was also surprised by the quickness of service that never compromised the freshness of ingredients. I have to admit, by the end of the trip I was a bit tired of cucumbers, tomatoes and hummus, but it was great to try many of the traditional Israeli dishes!

Spices in the Jerusalem Market
Olives at the Jerusalem Market
Cookies in Jerusalem
More Sweet Treats in Jerusalem
Garden Salad in Jerusalem
Focaccia with Feta and Tomatoes
Caprese Pizza in Jerusalem
This meal in the Bedouin tent was easily my favorite. We sat on mats on the floor in a tent and stuffed our faces with chicken, rice, laffa bread, hummus and salads.

Traditional Meal in a Bedouin Tent
My first taste of Israeli hummus was in Tzfat. I couldn't believe how incredibly smooth and rich the hummus was. Don't even get me started on the pita. Forget Americanized pita that's hard and thin. Israeli pita is light, fluffy and pillow-soft.

Plain Hummus in Tzfat
Chickpea Hummus in Akko
Beef Kebabs in Akko
I had plenty of tuna sandwiches in Israel, but they don't make it with mayo. The tuna was fresh and perfect on the homemade grain bread that is typical of many Israeli eateries.

Tuna Sandwich in Tzfat
We even tried sushi in Tel Aviv. It was a nice break from all of the middle eastern food! The only difference between the sushi in Israel and the sushi in America was that the fish wasn't exactly cold. It was quite odd to bite into a room temperature sushi roll, but it was still tasty!

Cucumber, Tofu & Seaweed Salad in Tel Aviv
Sushi in Tel Aviv
Cooking Laffa Bread in the Negev
Laffa bread is very popular and is used as an alternative to pita for falafel and shwarma sandwiches. We had the chance to make our own at a vegetable farm in the Negev dessert. After cooking on the grill, we topped our bread with olive oil and spices!

Za’atar and Olive Oil on Laffa Bread
Last, but not least, I had to highlight the most popular street food in Israel. On nearly every street, you can pick up a delicious falafel or shwarma sandwich with your choice of toppings. Toppings include hummus, pickles, cabbage, tahini, baba gannouj, and even chips (fries). 

Falafel Sandwiches in the Jerusalem Market

 Where is your favorite go-to middle eastern eatery?

1 comment

  1. I love this so much! I want to head back to Israel right now.


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