In the famous open, some areas covered, is Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda food market. There are stalls of every produce up and down the various maze-like lanes. Samples are happily given out and most of the veggies and fruit are from near-by farms.
Every city seems to have a meeting point and here it is “ the Aroma”, a coffee chain that managed to outdo Starbucks since business for them was so bad that they left the country and the locals are loyal to their own “java”.
Right on time, we meet Chef Tali Friedman. Young and entrepreneurial, this 36 year old mother has started a cooking school. But before we donned our aprons, she took us to taste food…. halva from the famed Halva Kingdom, David the fish monger, a nameless butcher, a spice shop, fruit merchant and as the grand finale,Basher, The King of Cheese with 800 varieties from around the world and known universally for the vast variety and quality.
Within the ‘shuk’, is Tali’s studio where a narrow stair case takes you to a very up- to- the- minute, state- of -the -art kitchen. The 14 of us were given our duties to chop, slice, roll, sauté, boil and whatever else was needed for all this locally grown produce. Overseeing all this were three very capable helpers.
While all was cooking , we ascended to the enclosed rooftop where bottles of Israeli red and white from the Golan Heights Winery, waiting to be tasted and we did our duty to the very last drop.
When we returned to the kitchen, all the pots and pans were washed by hand (no dish washers) and put away and the table was set.
Dinner included the freshest salad where even the tomatoes were so sweet and the lettuce so crisp, brought daily to the marketplace.
This was served with a delicate fruity tasting dressing followed by green garlic soup, fish balls on couscous, perfectly done beef albeit a bit too salty for the American taste and ended with diced caramelized apples wrapped in a paper -thin dough but not filo which, Tali said, just tears too easily. Spending time cooking doesn’t seems like something most travelers want to do with their time.
But this course is an insight into the people, the food, the miracle of the Israeli’s effort to bring forth all the food from this arid country.
I guarantee, these few hours will be the most talked about part of your trip.
Wild Garlic Soup
15 stems of young garlic (remove 5cm of the green leaves coming from the top end of the stem)
2 parsley roots
2 celery roots
½ kg potatoes
1 liter vegetable stock
3 spoons olive oil (or 50gr butter)
Slice the garlic stems to centimeter-thick “rings”.
In a heavy cooking pot, fry the garlic and leek in olive oil.
Peel the potatoes and roots, and chop them to similarly-sized dices.
Add those to the mix and continue frying lightly to transparency. The roots don’t need to become “golden”, as it is preferred to maintain their lovely white color.
Add the vegetable stock along with half a liter of boiled water. Make sure to cover the ingredients with water, and then some – about a third more. (If you don’t have vegetable stock, it can be substituted with water.)
Keep cooking for 45 minutes, and then use a hand blender to puree (no need to sift!).
Taste and season with Atlantic sea salt and some white pepper.
Taste again and cook for an additional 15 minutes.