Whenever I get a new cookbook, I immediately sit down and read it through, start to finish. Page by page, I devour the photos and recipes until I finally find myself at the back cover, wanting more.
I’m the kind of person who starts making food and then snacks while that food is cooking. Waiting for water to boil? Grab a handful of chips. Oven preheating? Eat some grapes. Counting down the seconds on the microwave? String cheese.
Food fascinates me. Beyond the science of pairing flavors while cooking and combining the appropriate chemicals and ingredients while baking, I find that a good meal brings people together no matter what the occasion. One of the coolest things about Judaism is that it all seems to revolve around food.
My blanket motto for any Jewish holiday is “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.” Whether it’s a death in the family and we’re sitting shiva or we’re celebrating the birth of a child or their commitment to Jewish learning as an adult, you can expect our plates to be full and our stomachs even fuller.
Israel is an incredible place to encounter food because it truly is a melting pot of cuisines. You may find it hard to believe, but Israeli food is more than just shwarma, falafel, and tubs of hummus. In addition to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences, one can easily find African and European accents in Israeli food.
The first time I ever went to Israel was the first time I ever saw a kumquat. It was also the first time I was introduced to pomegranates, and the ridiculously refreshing sensation that is lemon with mint (think of it as a minty lemonade slushy).
And of course, I can’t forget the Bamba.
I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to make a peanut butter version of Cheetos, but it worked and I’m obsessed with it. Bamba makes up 25% of the Israeli snack market and 75% of my diet.
All jokes aside, I can’t wait to spend eight weeks eating my way through Israel with the help of my boss and fellow interns at Delicious Israel and the twentysome Pittsburgh kids I’ll be living and traveling with. I hope you stick around to see how it all plays out, one handful of Bamba at a time.