“The mood of each city comes from the memories and dreams of the people who live in it,” writes the Molcho family. “With their hopes, worries, achievements and opportunities, as well as sounds and smells – and that's especially true for Tel Aviv.”
Memories and dreams of the inhabitants of Tel Aviv can hardly be more diverse: about 92 percent of Tel Avivians are Jews who have their roots all over the world – for example in Russia, France, Morocco, Yemen or Ethiopia. About four percent are Christian or Muslim Arabs. Accordingly, the cuisine of the city on the Mediterranean is also very colorful: from shakshuka and hummus over Knisch and Strudel to Café au lait and Köfte.
So what would be the perfect companion snack for Eurovision Song Contests taking place in Tel Aviv? And is there a cocktail that sweetens the seemingly endless wait in front of the TV during the selection of the best hit song?
Two recently published cookbooks take readers on a stroll through the neighborhoods to markets, street food stalls, restaurants, and the city's chefs. If you want to bring home the fragrance of Tel Aviv, you will find his recipe there – two of which we have selected for the ESC evening: Chicken Shawarma and Silverscreen Cocktail (see the end of the article).
The Molcho Family: Visiting Fishers, Bloggers, and Holocaust Survivors
“The Navigator” is Kobi Rubin, a taxi driver and food blogger whose parents immigrated to Israel from Tunisia and who, with no sense of humor, gushes about places beyond the usual addresses. “The Urban Plant Collector” is the name of the portrait of Heela Harel, whose mother is from the USA and whose father has Kurdish roots. The elementary school teacher and artist finds edible greens on every street corner and serves an appetizer of leaves and flowers.
These Israelis are just two of a series whose lives are featured in Tel Aviv by Neni. Among them: a fisherman who writes books about the sea, a barber who survived the Holocaust, a lesbian couple who entertain their guests in the living room, a journalist who also writes about the troubles of Palestinian cooks in the city. All of these were visited by the Molcho family – that's Mother Haya and her four sons – and they cooked with them.
Haya Molcho, like her husband, the pantomime Samy Molcho, comes from Tel Aviv – but they found their new home in Vienna decades ago. There, at the Naschmarkt, Haya Molcho founded her first of eleven restaurants ten years ago, called Neni after the first letters of her sons' first names. For two weeks, mother and children went on recipe research in Tel Aviv, came out an illustrated book city guide reading cookbook or as it says in the subtitle, “Food. People. Stories”.
The recipes are a mix of dishes that Haya Molcho offers in her restaurants in the 25hours hotels in Hamburg to Paris, and those who have created her Tel Aviver hosts. The ingredients are therefore also readily available here, and if not – such as Duftpelargonienblätter or Sriracha sauce – then there are replacement tips. The favorite meal of the Viennese ex-Tel Avivin: roasted aubergines with Asian Tahina.
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Reuven Rubin: A Tel Aviv sommelier from Krefelder
Does it even exist, the “Israeli cuisine”? Reuven Rubin also asks this question at the end of his foreword to “Tel Aviv – The Cult Recipes”. The colorful mix of residents from over 70 nations has also shaped the food culture significantly, he writes. After all: “Eating out is almost impossible in this city: even the simplest snack bar uses the best ingredients, because Israelis are demanding.”
Rubin, born in Krefeld and emigrated to Tel Aviv in 1990, is a wine expert and food journalist. He has visited 28 restaurants, bars and cafés for his book, presents them in two or three sentences and presents their recipes. He has sorted the chapters into the neighborhoods of the city, such as “The Old North”, “Rothschild Boulevard” or “Jaffa”.
The Bakery Ibn Gvirol in HaZafon HaYashan, for example, explains how a polenta-lemon cake with ricotta and pine nuts is made. Bulgarian Bar Shishko serves Balkan Pljeskavica from veal minced meat. The Lala Land on the beach offers seabeards in mint sauce for sunset. In the tiny Quzeria in the Levinsky market, calamari come on chickpeas with spinach on the plate. And the Milk & Honey distillery in the south, the first whiskey distillery in Israel, produces kosher spirits.
“If you visit Tel Aviv, do not be surprised,” writes Rubin, “when you are invited home by strangers who have just met you on the beach for dinner to taste the Israeli cuisine.” But what the Israeli cuisine should be – everyone has to cook for themselves.