6 Israeli Food Trends We Can’t Wait to Try

From kohlrabi to fancy sodas, Israeli cuisine is trending in 2020!

Since so much good food is coming out of Israel, wouldn’t you like to know what and how Israelis are eating in 2020? Well, I did. 

So on a recent trip, I did lots, and lots of eating — Russian cuisine! Bar snacks! Locally-sourced dishes! I also talked to those in the know about the local food scene, like Inbal Baum, founder of the food tour company, Delicious Israel, and food writers Adeena Sussman, author of Sababa, and Janna Gur, author of several books on Israeli and Jewish food including the recently published Shuk. Here’s what I learned:

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Cozy is in. Fancy is out.

Israel was never fancy — have they even heard of serving spoons? But now they have taken the laid-back approach to a whole new level.Israeli eating has no formality or pretense,” says Inbal Baum.“What we eat in Israel is local, plant-based, shared, and fresh. Nobody wants to sit at a table covered with a white tablecloth for a three-course meal, forced to use silverware that they don’t know how to use. You want meals where you feel at home and comfortable.”  Which explains the popularity of Eyal Shani’s HaSalon, a restaurant with an open kitchen where the meal is cooked in front of the guests. This makes the dining experience feel like a party, rather than a stuffy event.

We all knowfarm-to-table” cooking. Now it’s time to try “field-to-table.”

Foraging — picking wild plants wherever you find them — is growing in popularity, says Janna Gur. Brut, a wine bar in Tel Aviv with a highly respected chef, has a forager on staff. And why not? Eating greens from the field was pervasive in Biblical times. Today, it goes hand in hand with the ecological trend. You can even book foraging tours around Israel — by the sea, in the hills around Jerusalem, or within a city.

A simple sandwich, when done right, can be a work of art.

“There is an art to a sandwich, and the artistry is revealed in how it is layered,” says Baum. Take sabich, the Iraqi pita sandwich stuffed with eggplant, potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and a variety of sauces. Rather than fill the pita horizontally, as you might a turkey sandwich, fill it vertically so that no two bites are alike. Same goes for falafel. And keep it pretty — Instagram awaits!

It’s time to meet kohlrabi.

Kohlrabi, green or purple root vegetable that’s the cousin of cabbage, is served all over Israel. “Find it in bars as a snack, sliced thin and served with vinaigrette,” says Baum. Cut it into matchsticks and add it to salads. Hotel 65 on Rothschild Boulevard cuts it super thin, like carpaccio, and includes it in their breakfast buffet. HaAchim in Tel Aviv serves it roasted. It’s everywhere. And it’s good. I had never eaten kohlrabi before, but upon my return, I bought a handful of them. They now sit in my crisper, awaiting their fate.  

Beef is more popular than ever, yet so is vegan food.

Back in the day, Israeli menus were filled with chicken. Now, poultry is crowded out by all of the lamb and beef selections. Meat in Israel used to be imported, expensive, and poorly cooked. Now it’s local — much of it comes from the Golan — and prepared with care. While there’s lots more red meat on the menu — most of it grilled — there are also endless vegan options. Tel Aviv alone has more than 400 vegan-friendly restaurants, according to Baum.  

Sweetened soft drinks are reimagined.

The next generation of soda is bubbling up, according to Sussman. You can find gazoz, a sparkling soda sweetened with fresh and fermented fruits, natural fruit syrups, and fresh herbs, at Cafe Levinsky 41 in Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Market and at other kiosks around the city. A book about this fizzy drink, written by Sussman and Benny Briga, the owner of Levinsky 41, will be coming out in Spring 2021. Look out for an explosion of interest in sweet, bubbly, non-alcoholic, and all-natural beverages. I treated myself to a soda made with lemon leaves, white pepper, rose petals, and passion fruit. Much better than coca-cola, and far more Instagram-worthy too. 

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