By Dan Garwood, North American Coordinator
Israel’s outdoor markets, lovingly called the shuk, are host to tons of amazing food. Lots of it comes in small portions, so you can sample a bit of everything as you wander through these magical markets.
Okay, sure, when you describe halva, it doesn’t sound that appealing – sweetened sesame seed paste. Yum? The halva in the shuk is nothing like the small, packaged things that looked, and let’s be real, tasted like chalk that your Hebrew school teacher gave you as a “treat.” The real stuff comes in big wheels, they taste fresh, and they’re mixed with some wild flavors. Even the plain one tastes great – perfectly sweetened to balance the sesame’s mild bitterness.
They may be one of the most popular Jewish pastries worldwide, but nothing compares to the rugelach baked by Jerusalem’s Marzipan Bakery. Marzipan’s are dense, chocolaty, and absolutely soaked through with honey.
3. Dried Fruit
Walk through the shuk and you’ll see piles of dried fruit in every direction. Dates, figs, prunes, and more! Much of this fruit is grown in Israel, but you’ll also see imports like kiwi and mango. One thing that’s inescapable is the mind-boggling number of different types of dates, all with different flavor, sweetness, and texture.
Shopping in the shuk is fun, but the best thing to do is people-watching. Find a stall selling fresh hummus, grab a plateful drizzled with bright green olive oil, and a few warm pitas. Then sit, enjoy your food, and watch the colorful characters who work and shop in the shuk every day.
Okay, so you can’t just grab spices to snack on, but if you enjoy cooking, the shuk is a wonderland of exotic flavors. You can stock up on spices that are hard to find back home, or blends that’ll make your home-cooked meals shine! Spices also make a great gift to bring home to the amateur chefs in your life.