When I was little, my grandmother would make Yorkshire pudding on special occasions. Whipped up on the spot, she made them from memory, from scratch and with love. She is gone now, but the tastes of her Yorkshire pudding’s crunchy tops and savoury centres remain as vivid in my mind as her jokes and hugs.
This kind of taste and emotional recollection is what I like to call a food memory. These are memories that haul us back to the intersection of delicious food, tradition and love, and leave us with phantom tastes in our mouths.
But what if you could preserve your food memories? Keep them real and alive for everyone to enjoy.
This is exactly what Tel Aviv-based Delicious Israel, is doing for locals and visitors to food memory-rich Israel.
A Labour of Love
Founded by Jewish American expat, Inbal Baum, Delicious Israel guides travellers off the beaten path to authentic food and cultural experiences in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The curated, boutique style adventures give travellers an insider taste of Israeli lifestyle and kitchens. Inbal and her team are passionate about connecting visitors to the multigenerational food vendors and sharing the food stories that make Israel’s food so unique. For Inbal, “There’s no better way to connect to culture than through food and people”.
During my visit, Inbal takes me on a Delicious Israel tasting tour through the Lavinsky Market or Shuk Lavinsky. We start our tour in the narrow market streets crowded with locals and chefs picking up spices, oils, nuts and other goodies. I hear no English, see no familiar logos and realize I am one of only a handful of tourist in the market—I am in a real place.
I learn that the market got its start back in the 1920’s when migrants from Turkey and Greece began to arrive in Israel. Unable to afford housing in the city’s centre, they began establishing themselves on the outskirts of town by doing trade, resale and wholesale in this neighborhood. As new families from Iran and other regions landed in Lavinsky, the neighborhood grew and the market expanded. These days, the sons, daughters and grandchildren of those 1920s migrants are running the shops, dutifully preserving the food memories of the once immigrant working class.
Eat Your Heart Out
Throughout our walk Inbal introduces me to vendors and tells me their stories while we sample their food.
We stop for some Bureka, made by a fourth generation bread maker, Isha. This flakey bread with a cheese centre flies off the shelves to Kosher and non-Kosher eaters alike. Looking around the shop, you will see thousand-year-old men sitting alongside skinny-jeaned hipsters all enjoying the Bureka legacy.
Yom Tov Deli has its roots in Turkey. Opened in the 1960s by a Turkish Mezze specialist, this shop is known to this day for delicious olives and deli goods. Now run enthusiastically by the Mezze Specialist’s daughter and grandsons, the shop has been updated and reimagined for the future—same food, new memories.
On the edge of the market is the Greek bakery, Kondatoria Albert. There’s no sign, and it doesn’t look like much. Without someone like Inbal guiding you, you’d surely miss it. Owned and operated by Yehuda Yaakov, this shop has been a Lavinsky staple since 1931. Now well into his 80’s Yehuda is still in the shop everyday. Here, in the modest store we taste test mind-blowing marzipan and light-as-air egg meringue puffs. Consider for a moment what marzipan perfected over 83 years, made by hand and from scratch tastes like.
Along the way we also sample halva, malabi, hummus and dried fruits all woven from the diverse, cultures and experience of the markets inhabitants.
When I leave Inbal, I am sad. I know I can’t make these things in my kitchen or buy them at even the most artisanal of stores. I know that once the food I bought here is gone I am left only with food memories—phantom tastes an all.
Delicious Israel is based in Tel Aviv and offers food tours, wine and food tastings, shuk and cook workshops as well as traditional homemade Shabbat dinners.
Customized food, travel and culture experiences can also be organized in English or Hebrew.
Koofsa by Delicious Israel delivers curated Koofsas (Passover, Summer, Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah) boxes filled with artisanal products. Now delivering to the United States.