When you think about travel, or even holidays, often the first things you will think about relate to food. Food is such an ingrained part of any culture, and helps to contribute to the overall attitudes and behaviors in the society. Israel is no exception to this rule. With a deep history that is often rooted in food, Israel has also made its own, unique traditions concerning food that has placed it towards the top of the culinary enthusiast’s travel list. If you love food, then you can’t miss out on an incredible culinary tour of Israel. Keep reading to learn what more there is to love about the incredible food found in this tiny Mediterranean country.
There is a reason that people talk about hummus so much when it comes to Israel. Not only is it an incredibly simple and delicious staple of the area, but it’s origins are thought to have come from Tiberius. This simple dish uses chickpeas, olive oil, and spices to create a creamy paste that is traditionally eaten with Israel’s national bread: pita. Just like how pineapple tastes better in Hawaii and schnitzel is only made well in Germany, hummus from Israel tastes truly perfect.
You can’t talk about food in Israel without talking about the food of the Bible. Many different foods common to the area play a major role in the Bible ranging from wine to barley. Common staples of the time included wheat, barley, wine, olive oil, and date honey. These were common foods found in the diet of the people of ancient Israel. In fact, date honey was even used to fund much of the crusades because it was in such high demand. In addition, the people from Biblical times also enjoyed local figs and pomegranates in their diets. What is most amazing about Israel is how over the centuries it has been a central area between the Mediterranean and the Middle East, allowing it to absorb flavors from Africa, Italy, and other countries.
Along with traditional Biblical food, the Jewish communities of the area have also heavily influenced the culinary flavors of the area. With one-third of Israel’s restaurants licenced as Kosher, you can’t visit the country without trying some of the Jewish culinary culture. Often this food is eaten during holidays, but much of it can be found year round. Try traditional latkes which are made around Hanukkah, also known as fried potato pancakes, or locally made challah bread which is served with many meals. If you love sweets, you have to try many of the honey delicacious consumed during Rosh Hashanah or try sufganiyot, a traditional jelly donut. When touring with World Express Travel, you can even experience a Seder dinner with a local family in Jerusalem if you wish.
Street food and local markets are another strong part of the rich culinary culture of Israel. Local markets are packed with a variety of fresh produce and other products. You can buy everything you could possibly need to make a delicious meal of Moroccan spiced tilapia or traditional vegetarian falafel after a single shopping trip. Not only will your tastebuds water, but your eyes will feast on the brilliant colors and elegant displays of goods. At and around these markets, you can also find street food everywhere. Why do the cooking when many of the locals are so great at it? These street food venders are the Israeli version of fast food. Many stalls don’t even have tables so you eat standing, but it’s worth it. From shwarma to sabich, you’ll dine on incredible delicacies at an affordable price.
When you’re out and about, there are some types of street food across Israel that you simply won’t want to miss. Here are a few types of food you’ll want to try:
- Jerusalem Bagels: If you’re a bagel aficionado, you may look at a Jerusalem bagel and think that something is not quite right. However, these bagels are incredibly delicious and easy to eat on the go. Unlike New York style bagels, Jerusalem bagels are not boiled before baking and they’ve very long in shape. You can’t say you’ve been to Jerusalem without trying one.
- Shawarma: A Middle Eastern traditional, shawarma is simply a type of spiced meat roasted on a spit. In many places, the meat is traditionally a lamb mix, however in Israel, you’ll often find turkey shawarma that has been basted in lamb fat. Most often shawarma will be served in pita bread with hummus and some veggies.
- Shakshouka: This breakfast dish which came from North Africa is a local favorite. It’s eggs fried with a spicy tomato sauce. Some versions include other types of vegetables and occasionally sausage.
- Falafel: If you don’t try falafel in Israel, you’re missing out. This fried chickpea concoction is sold just about everywhere and is easy to grab on the go. Pick some up for an afternoon snack!
- Jerusalem Mixed Grill: This delicious stir fry style meal is made from chicken giblets, such as the heart and gizzards, mixed together with veggies and seasonings. This mixture is then served in a warm pita with hummus, hot sauce, and pickles. It’s a local classic that you can’t miss out on when roaming Israeli cities.
- Pomegranate Juice: Have you ever tried fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice? You will have the chance when you visit Israel. Find a local street vendor who will make the juice right in front of your eyes.
Israel is a crazy mesh of many different types of foods, ranging from European traditions to North African specialties. You can find your Arab favorites as well as deeply religious traditional foods. The main thing is that Israeli food has come into its own whether you visit a high-end restaurant or a street food vendor.
When you travel to Israel, you will also want to take the time to explore the wine culture that has evolved in the area. While wine was around in Israel, it really hadn’t made its mark until recently. The wine market has exploded in the region because of the perfect growing conditions. Wine from Israeli vineyards used to only be sweet wines, but many producers have expanded into dry and semi-dry varietals as well. In fact, the local wine industry is struggling to keep up with the new demand. Enjoying wine is common in Israel with meals and for social occasions like in much of the Mediterranean region. When you tour Israel, it’s worth taking a few vineyard tours to understand the unique agricultural side of the wine you enjoy over dinner. You can pick from any of the local boutique vineyards or opt to tour a winery that produces thousands of bottles a year for export as well.
You could easily turn a tour of Israel into just a trip to try incredible food. World Express Travel offers unique culinary tours of the region so you can do just that. Learn about the local cuisine and how it’s made. Tour vineyards and olive groves. Truly eat your way through Israel. Contact World Express Travel today to get started with the planning process of your wondrous culinary excursion. Call us today!