Time for Israeli Food

By Shiran Cohen, Israel Emissary

When people ask me what my favorite food is, I always answer: homemade Israeli food made by my grandma. My grandma’s food has a special taste, a taste of home. My 85-year-old grandma, Pnina (Pearl) Cohen, was born in the city of Izmir, Turkey. She made Aliyah to Israel as part of the Jewish agency children’s Aliyah program during World War Two. She went to Kibbutz and then moved to Jerusalem. Every Shabbat, my family in Israel enjoys an Israeli Shabbat dinner that includes fish cooked in a traditional Moroccan way, Yemini bread, Iraqi Kubba and Ashkenazi kugel for dessert. 

As I prepared for this cooking class, my grandma shared with me the story about how in the 1950s in Jerusalem, there was only one oven for her entire neighborhood. Waiting in line to bake Shabbat dinner gave everyone the chance to learn traditional recipes from their neighbors who had made Aliyah to Israel from around the globe.

Nowadays, Israeli cuisine comprises local dishes by native Israelis and dishes brought by Diaspora Jews. However, Israeli fusion cuisine isn't brand new. It has developed since before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and particularly since the late 1970s. Israeli cuisine has adopted, and continues to adapt, elements of various styles of Jewish cuisine, particularly the Mizrahi, Sephardic and Ashkenazi styles of cooking. It incorporates many foods traditionally eaten in Levantine, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. Today, foods such as falafel, hummus, shakshouka, couscous, and za'atar are widely popular in Israel and all around the world.

I invite you to join me for the first ever Israeli Shabbat dinner cooking class, Tuesday, March 6, at the Jewish Community Campus. The two sessions are 5:30-7:00 p.m., and 7:30-9:00 p.m. We will learn how to make traditional Moroccan fish, couscous salad, za’atar, olive oil pita and amazing chocolate desserts. I can't wait to share some Israeli family recipes and tell you more about my own family's history!

Click here to learn more and register or contact Shiran, 913.832.7224. And stay tuned for more information, coming soon about Yom HaZikaron (Israel Memorial Day) and Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel Independence Day), April 17 and 18.