“There are so many ways to tour Israel, but we have such great food,”
says Boaz Melnik, director of Taste of Israel - an event that
brought food enthusiasts from far and wide to tour Israel's world of
culinary. He asks: “Why not take a journey of Israel through the plate?”
is an important part of Israeli culture and six bloggers from around
the world were recently selected and invited to the Holy Land by Taste
of Israel to take a bite.
Taste of Israel was created by a group
of students from the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzaliya called StandWithUs, which is an organization
dedicated to Israeli advocacy and education.
“This year’s project was a huge success,” 25-year-old Melnik tells The Jerusalem Post. The student-run group takes a new project under their wings each year to help shape Israel’s image abroad.
is not the only reality of Israel and we wanted people to see a
different side of it," explains Melnik. “There were many different ideas
for this year’s project, but food is something that brings people
together, it's something everyone can connect with.”
months of volunteer work, fundraising and planning, the student group
was able to make their idea a reality. They received funding from the
Tourism Ministry and a few private donors.
Participants of this
appetizing adventure were chosen based on the popularity and quality of
their blogs, and included food-enthusiasts from the US, Singapore, and
Bloggers included New York native Carey Jones of Serious Eats who has more than 150,000 twitter followers, Amy Sherman for San Fransisco of Cooking with Amy, Spanish Francisco Baccero of Directo Al Paladar who has more than 140,000 twitter followers, and another Singaporean, Zing Yang of the lifestyle blog, ShennyYang.
Dr. Leslie Tay, creator of Singarpore’s most read food blog, ieatishootipost tells The Post
in a phone interview that he never thought of Israel as a significant
member of the culinary world, and admitted that he didn’t know what was
considered "Israeli" cuisine before this trip.With an impressive 700,000
monthly page views, Tay is an important voice within Singaporean
culture and lifestyle.
“There is only one kosher restaurant in
Singapore as far as I know, and I have never been,” explains Tay. “I had
no idea what to expect.” He adds jokingly that the only exposure that
he ever had to anything Jewish was kosher salt.
The five-day long
journey of Israeli tastes which began in Tel Aviv, brought the bloggers
to restaurants throughout the country that were known for their food,
as well as their history. The students had the guidance of cooking
professionals such as chef Nir Zook, to help choose appropriate
restaurants for the event. The bloggers also got to participate in a
cooking workshop with chef Yair Feinberg.
students planned the tour specifically so the writers, who had never
visited the country before, could learn about the history and culture of
the country as they discovered all the delicious delicacies it has to
A crowd favorite was ‘Israeli breakfast,’ which is a
common favorite among tourists. Amy Sherman of Cooking with Amy posted
this mouthwatering photo on Twitter with the caption, “Israeli breakfast day 1.”
adventure included a trip to Nazareth, where bloggers enjoyed their
first felafel experience. This Israeli diet staple introduced a new
world of flavor to these adventurous ‘foodies.’
Joelen Tan of What’s Cookin’ Chicago,
which was named one of the top 50 food blogs, called the infamous
Israeli dish “a Middle Eastern version of the Chicago Hot Dog,” in her
blog post after the second day of the tour.
“I was so impressed
by the diversity of the food. It was truly a crucible for all different
types of cuisine,” recalls Tay. The food is a true representation of
every ethnicity that resides in the Holy Land; a mixture of Arab,
Jewish, and many other cuisines, he explains.
he insists that his favorite Israeli dish was hummus. He even recreated
the dish when he arrived home in Singapore, but with goma sauce (sesame
based sauce) for an Asian twist, he tells The Post.
the end of the second day, after touring through Nazareth, Ein Kamonim
cheese farm, and the Jish village, the team was brought to the shores of
Lake Kinneret for a special treat.
The students prepared a Poyke
dinner for the bloggers, a taste of casual Israeli life. Poyke is
essentially a slow cooked stew type dish, and “could be anything
including yesterday’s leftovers,” described Tay in his blog
article.“Yes, I know what you are thinking, but it actually tasted
“It really symbolized Israeli culture more than
anything else on the tour. Not only is it an Israeli tradition, but it
represents the melting pot of Israeli society,” says Melnik. It is made
with so many random ingredients that no one would ever expect to blend
together, but it always ends with something very tasty, he explains.
group also toured Jerusalem with a visit to the renowned restaurant
Mahane-Yuda, a trip to the Dead Sea, a tour of the Muni Winery, and much
Tay says that he always thought of Israel as a country of
political difficulty, but now after this trip, he believes that with
passionate young people such as those of StandWithUs there is a
possibility for change.
“At the end of the day, I think everyone just wants to live in peace,” says Tay.