- Part 1
To those who know me, it won’t come as a big surprise that I’m not a stranger to fast-food cravings – I used to be a too-frequent-for-it-to-be-healthy visitor to places like McDonalds and Burger King.
I was already starting to abandon this habit little by little when I moved from Zagreb to Dublin, where I replaced the “classic” fast food with comfort food instead… The a-maz-ing french toast in Herbstreet, the wonderful eggs benedict in Odessa, the always tasty Phad Thai in Koh, the sweet and sour chicken in Crystal Boat or the fries in Ely HQ… And last but not least: the Spar hummus with some nice warm pitas. These were my main food vices in Dublin…
Tel Aviv changed my whole view of comfort food once again. I am proud to say I haven’t stepped into a McDonalds or a similar place since landing in Israel in August last year and there is absolutely no reason why I should ever go back to that. Not here. There is too much of good local food everywhere for me to even consider that. And I do literally mean everywhere. Every café in Tel Aviv offers food, not just drinks, and there are cafes in every corner and nook of the city. Additionally, there are bakeries, kiosks and local fast food places offering a wide variety of tasty and affordable meals and snacks.
When someone asks me what would be the typical Israeli food, I never know what to answer. I don’t even think there is such a thing as one particular Israeli type of food – there are way too many different influences on the food culture here for this answer to be a simple one, so I will just list some of my favorite (comfort) foods instead.
Breakfast is an important meal for most Israelis. This is especially noticeable on Fridays and Saturdays, when Tel Aviv cafes are brimming with people (in some of the popular places it’s quite common to wait even up to an hour for a table) savoring all kinds of tasty breakfast dishes.
Some of my favorite things to eat for breakfast on the weekend are:
- “Israeli breakfast” – This meal will usually consist of 2 eggs, a chopped salad (most commonly tomatoes, cucumbers and onions), bread and several kinds of spreads.
- Shakshuka – The simplest explanation of this dish is eggs cooked in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and spices. There are also other variations of shakshuka that include adding other vegetables or a spinach base instead of tomatoes and so far all the kinds I tasted were really yummy!
- Jahnun - A traditional Yemenite Jewish dish prepared from rolled dough (looks similar to puff pastry, but isn’t) traditionally served with a crushed/grated tomato dip, hard-boiled eggs and zhug (Yemenite hot sauce made from hot peppers, coriander, garlic and spices). I have had several opportunities to taste the home-made jahnun made by my good friend’s mum and it was so good every time I’m yet to be tempted to try it anywhere else!
- Bourekas – I don’t think I need to explain this one, except to say that Israeli bourekas are a bit different from the ones I grew up with (I guess the ones in Croatia are more similar to Turkish ones). The Israeli bourekas have more dough and less fill compared to the kind I’m used to, but much more variations of cheese-based fillings. There are small, bite sized ones and larger ones that are usually served as a meal, commonly sliced and stuffed with hard-boiled eggs, pickles and zhug. Yummmmm
Photos by: Zrinka Opašić, Tel Aviv/Israel
Zrinka’s blog: www.newchapter-tlv.com