What is THE SHUK?

It seems that I have no time for anything these days – back to school and work. How did I do it outside the house before, I have no idea! So happy that at least I don’t have to go on the train every day – saves so much time and most importantly – energy and belief in humanity, something that is unfortunately not often seen in the great NYC.

However, since I’ve started this min-project, I have to set aside some time to write about my favorite (or not) cookbooks. Naturally, I couldn’t pass this book not only because it is a cookbook, but because it’s a culinary guide of the best food markets (and eateries within) in Israel.

This colorful book with amazing pictures profiles some of my favorite places, like Khachapuria and the places that I have never been like most of the shuks (markets) besides Mahane Yehuda. It made me realize how many places I never had a chance to visit.

Take, for example the famous Tel-Aviv Shuk-ha-Carmel. Tel-Aviv is not exactly my cup of tea, so I’ve only been there a few times for short, mostly museum visits. I, of course walked along Ha-Yarkon from the farthest hotels to the Old Jaffa port, and witnessed the famous dancing on the boardwalk. I’ve been to a couple of eateries, but with groups of people, so never was able to get to the shuk itself. Now that I am somehow stuck and not able to go to Israel for already almost four years, I am yearning to go to every shuk that I can possibly visit there. Carmel is, of course on my list, especially after I’ve ‘seen it’ with the eyes of Adeena Sussman

The authors (Einat Admony & Janna Gur) give you a beautiful piece of history about every shuk, Carmel included, and add their favorite spots to eat. Most of the markets in Israel will have small eateries inside or adjacent to the shuk. I am certainly putting Bourekas Turki Original on my list!

Another shuk that I totally want to see is the one in the Old Akko. I have spent all of maybe forty minutes in Akko on a run-around-as-fast-as-you-can-no-time-to-see-anything kind of a tour when I came to Israel for the first time, still from Moscow in 1996. It’s not even funny how long ago that was. I saw that it was an ancient place full of history, but never got to really experience it. Every time since that, I was on my own and Akko was always escaping me somehow. I am dreaming of going to the shuk there to try some of the delicacies mentioned in the book, like savory knafeh, or special Kurdi coffee with spices.

And – there is Mahane Yehuda – the majestic crown of shuks of Israel, gigantic place full of smells and tastes most of the people from outside the region can never dream of. This is the shuk I’ve been many times to – mostly shopping for Shabbat if I was on my own, or for the foods to take back to the US. I know – it’s not allowed to get the foods into the plentiful land of the USA, but there are a few things I always bring with me from the shuk. The fist on my list is, of course, spices. I get turmeric, za’atar, sumac, some blends like baharat, and some rice-enchasing mixtures. I pack them in several layers of bags, and stuff them within my clothes. I also bring cheese sometime. Israeli cheeses are the best, and of course, one can pretty much never get specific kosher cheeses here, even in Brooklyn, the Mecca of kosher food. Certainly on my last day I am shopping at the Marzipan bakery on the Agrippa street, the fist one of the Mahane Yehuda market – this place has the best rugelach in the world! On my last day just before departure the shuk is my way to savor the smells and tastes of this magnificent city.

There are, of course, recipes in this book, plenty of them – beautifully written, calling you to try and experiment with new flavors, and spices that you might not ever had in your pantry. After reading this, I definitely plan to go on a culinary tour of Israel – something that I wanted for a long time, but always pushed away in favor of learning in a Jerusalem Beit Midrash.

This time – I am doing it for sure! Please Gd!


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