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Israel Cooking and Food - an Overview of Israeli Cuisine History Edit

The cuisine of Israel has been influenced by the cuisine of the countries from the Middle East, Northern Africa, and the Mediterranean countries. Ancient Egypt and the Byzantine Empire influenced the Jewish cuisine in the past. The strongest influence, though, seems to come from the Middle East. People have learned from the Iranians to cook meat with fruits, split peas and lentils, from Lebanon to prepare fish with paprika, cayenne pepper and other condiments, from Jordanians to prepare kebabs and not at last, from Syrians they have learned how to cook kubbeh. The cuisine of Yemen also played an important role. In particular it is distinguished in the combination of spices that are used, and not through complexity. Also, the Maghreb affected very much the Israeli cooking style. couscous and shakshouka are just two dishes the North African countries have contributed to the Israeli cooking style.

Israel inherited from Greece and Turkey foods such as moussaka, dolmades and the baklava pastries. Furthermore, the countries from Balkans exercised a strong influence over the Israeli dishes. Romania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria must be mentioned in this case. Other countries that have influenced Israeli cuisine: Russia, Poland, Hungary and even Ethiopia and India.

Because the number of the influences is so great, people tend to believe that Israel has not a cuisine of its own. However, the extraordinary diversity is what characterizes Israeli cuisine.

The Jewish religion has a great role and has influenced the diet of the Israeli people. The most important religious laws regarding food (known as kashrut) refer to the fact that Pork and some other kinds of meat are forbidden. Also, people are not allowed to consume meat and dairy products at the same meal. This is why many restaurants in Israel serve either meat or dairy dishes, but not both.

Cuisines of Israel Edit

Map of Israel

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The differences between the cooking styles of the Israelis are not observed inside the country. Ashkenazic and Sephardic are the names of the two cooking styles. The first one belongs to the immigrants from Europe, while the second is typical to the Israelis from the Middle East. These differ through ingredients, as well as through preparation techniques. The Israeli cuisine has changed a lot, in time. There were certain dishes and preparation techniques in the Talmudic times, others in the Middle Ages and different ones in the modern times. Of course, the traditional recipes were preserved.

Preparation Methods for Israeli Cooking Edit

The cooking methods that are practiced in Israel do not differ from the ones that are used in countries from Europe, for example. Some of the techniques are used from ancient times and are mentioned even in the Bible, while others are newer. This depends on the dishes that are prepared. Using new ingredients and preparing new dishes determined the utilization of more cooking methods. Grinding is one of the eldest techniques used in Israel. This is how the grain seeds were turned into flour. Furthermore, baking was used, to make bread from flour and other ingredients. This method is also used when preparing cakes or pies. Other techniques include frying, stewing, boiling, salting, seasoning and drying. Of course, each ingredient that is added to a food and moreover, each dish involves using one or more of the techniques that are mentioned above.

Special Equipment for Israeli Cooking Edit

In the old times, the women were responsible with the cooking, in Israel. Among their most frequent tasks, grinding the flour and the preparation of the bread had the greatest importance. The foods were prepared even by women who had a significant role in the society. Butchering the animals and preparing the meat were the tasks of the men. Kitchens were placed only in palaces, as the poor people only used an improvised oven made from stones under which the fire was lit. The pot in which the food was cooked was placed above the stones. Wood was used to maintain the fire. Other tools comprised of various pots that had local names.

Nowadays, people from Israel use mostly the same utensils as many other countries from Europe. In a modern kitchen, the cooking equipment may contain knives, forks, teaspoons, tablespoons, plates, turners, food scoops, pans, pots, bowls, trays, and devices for measuring the weight of the ingredients and the temperature at which they are cooked.

Most Israeli dishes don’t require you to purchase any special tools. However, having a coffee grinder helps with roasting and grinding spices and maximizes their volatile oils, which, in turn, provides your food with more flavor.

Israeli Food Traditions and Festivals Edit

The traditions and the festivals from Israel are strongly related to religion. People think that the religion is very important and as a result, there are dishes in the cuisine of Israel that are prepared during the religious holidays.

The Passover is one of the most significant events in Israel. The dishes that are prepared on this occasion may include fish, potato flour, pastries, eggs and almonds. The drinks that can be consumed during the Passover resume to sassafras and lemonade. Some of the most popular dishes are Matzo, Chametz, Farfel, and one that is more complex, named Passover Seder Plate, which may include Marror, Beitzah, Karpas, salt water, Charoset and Chazereth. The unleavened bread is consumed with many of these dishes. Maẓẓah klös is a soup that replaces during the Passover the traditional lokshen. The desserts are not neglected. A great variety of puddings and sweet cakes are served at the end of a meal.

The Sabbath is another religious event that is marked by a traditional dish called kugel. It is made of meat, peas and beans. Shalet is the name given by the European Israelis to kugel. Furthermore, shalet can be used to define a pudding made of apple, noodle, mazzah or almond. Challahs designate the curled bread that is prepared for Sabbath. The raisin wine is traditionally consumed on this occasion.

Also, the other major religious holidays feature certain dishes. On Rosh Hashana, people prepare challah and Tzimmes, before the start of Yom Kippur, they cook Chicken soup, on Hanukkah – Latke and Sufganiyah, on Purim – hamantaschen and Kreplach and on Shavout – Blintz, dairy foods and cheese pie.

People in Israeli Food Edit

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See also Edit

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