Hagit Bilia, known as Liza Panelim, the well-known and esteemed culinary figure, chose to write under that pen name so that she could have complete freedom in writing stories and anecdotes about her life. Bilia did not learn to cook but has been cooking for as long as she can remember. At the age of 18, cooking became her daily bread after her parents left the country. To feel at home, she cooked, and the smells gave her confidence. As the daughter of a Moroccan-born father and a German-born mother, she does not cook ethnic dishes but rather cooks Israeli, with plenty of herbs and seasonal vegetables, and the lightness and joy of the kitchen on the plate is always important to her. She cooks without unusual ingredients, as the name of her third book implies, ‘Kal, Kal, Kal’ (Easy, Easy, Easy)
To be Israeli is to be reckless and capricious but effective, concise, and delicious – this is how she sees herself. A cook on the road is not overly concerned about the kitchen. Bilia has a large group of followers in the US, she understands life as an outsider, and they have a significant part and place in her community - her parents, her siblings, and now her eldest son are living in Australia. Bilia has published three best-selling cookbooks and two children’s books.
Photos by Guy Behar