Street Food in Israel
I am captivated by street food and open food markets. Sliding into already crowded streets, the colors, smells, and variety of the stalls are fantastic for exploring and getting to know a new destination. Cities and regions can be defined by their offerings. The character of the street food reveals something about a place and its culture.
The stories are true – you really can get a falafel on almost every block in Jerusalem. And as good as they are, it’s a wonderful thing that they are so readily available! I can’t decide that I like more: the thin crispy shell and moist flavorful core of the falafel or the variety of fresh vegetables, pickled salads and spreads that round out the sandwich.
Crisscrossing the Muslim Quarter in Jerusalem, I stopped at this stand several times. My favorite bread pocket was filled with white cheese and spinach. A fairly simple snack to take along sightseeing, there was still something very universal and satisfying about it.
Istanbul’s Spice Market had some of the most beautiful spice stalls I’ve ever seen, but the ones in Jerusalem’s Arab Market were fun too. Next to cardamon, cinnamon, tea, and za’atar was a green spice pyramid and dried balls of tahini.
Other stalls of spices and olives were were more simply presented. I really loved the colorful crates outside this small shop.
Fresh fruit, especially bananas, grow throughout Israel. I particularly like the market below which uses the bananas as decorations. (You can also tell that it is Bethlehem from the Santa Claus in the window!) Abundant local fruit also means lots of fresh squeezed orange and pomegranate juice stands.
Of course, sometimes you don’t actually want the food to spill into the street. At this butcher’s shop, boxes of livers, chicken hearts, and sheep hooves are set up in the main walkway. Even outside the storefront, lungs hang by the trachea alongside huge shanks of meat and ribbons of tripe.
I did manage to find one new food – kohlrabi. While I’d never had this before, the cabbage like vegetable has sliced up fresh at breakfast and dressed up into a creamy meze salad.