**Featured image credit to afar.com
WARNING: You are about to see a lot of food porn. I cannot be blamed for your stomach grumbles. All places mentioned are in Jerusalem!
The picture above doesn’t capture the beautiful heaps of spices you can see in the shuk (a loud, lively market with many and varied sellers of fresh, local fruits and vegetables, bread, sweets, dried goods, cell phone covers, you name it!). But it does capture the gorgeous colors of the tavlinim, and it captures your senses too…
It had been 4 years since I’d experienced the glory of the shuk… the wandering around and never being able to find your way back to that spot, the way you go in the same entrance but the shops have seemed to rearrange depending on the time of day, the heaps of fresh dates or bright pomegranates.
The sight of this sundial building was an exciting welcome back to a place where I love to get lost.
I’d be tempted to buy a piece of every one of the many types of halva…
To linger a while at the candy stall pretending to be a child again…
I love the ANONYMITY of the shuk. Crowds of people shopping for their week, not to mention all the Jewish grandmothers swarming on Friday morning before Shabbat. I was warned that if they ran over me with their wheeled carts, it was my fault.
At first, I was too shy to jump into the action, speak to the sellers, shout and bargain on their level. But as I got reimmersed in Hebrew, my tongue and my tastebuds jumped back into the amazing food adventure that is Israeli and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Just a few samples…
On our TALMA food tour, we visited…
this pita master, whose bakery I unfortunately can’t remember, though it was on the outskirts of the shuk. We had Georgian cheese bread, khachapuri, at corner restaurant Khachapuria; hummus and falafel at Rachmo; and smooth sorbet at Mousseline to finish it all off- all conveniently located on the corner of HaEshkol Street.
Though I learned about cheap, delicious and kosher-meat Rachmo on the food tour, I was not blessed by its amazing kubbe until later. Kubbe (koo-beh) are a type of semolina dumpling with minced meat inside. The soup has many varieties, including a sour lemon one (Kubbe Hamusta) which is my favorite, but the one shown here is Kubbe Adom with beets.
I frequented the restaurant Azura, also a kosher meat restaurant with the works – and famous for its hummus. It has many different types of hummus and rice, traditional dishes like kubbe and some things like surprised me, like oxtail, goulash, and moussaka… naturally, as I am also a Greece-lover, I had to try that one. You can see they serve you with pickles and pita, and for good measure there’s a mountainous plate of hummus heaping with chickpeas, egg, and parsley.
Because it was meat-only, there’s NO BECHAMEL in this!!! It was still unbelievable!
I had to capture what the bread stalls look like, but don’t have good enough pictures myself. Credit to afar.com:
You can see bagels, large round pastries with sesame seeds, and the green one is pita or laffa (soft, “Iraqi pita”) with zaatar, a Middle Eastern spice. And when the fresh challah comes out on Fridays, you couldn’t keep me away. (Culture note for Czechs: challah is like vánočka except softer and chewier.)
BONUS: So this doesn’t have anything to do with Mahane Yehuda, but I wanted to mention our “cookout night” in the woods just outside Jerusalem.
Everyone helped out chopping vegetables, seasoning… There was lots of food, which we all cooked ourselves outside on huge pans/poyke pots, a typically awesome Israeli experience.