March 19, 2019

A look back

By John Dunkelgrün.

The Israeli Food Festival at the Crown Plaza Promenade was a most successful event. Three evenings with an almost full house, people revelling in the colours and flavours of this unique cuisine.

Few countries, especially not small ones, have as much of a cultural variety as well as international exposure as Israel has. Culture determines what you can achieve with food, but the land, the terroir, gives you the basic ingredients. For millennia the land has been known for its fertility and its produce. Expressions like “Land of milk and honey”, and “The fertile crescent” (which includes the Lebanon) show that if there is water, the bounty of the land is plentiful and good.

With very scientific irrigation and advanced desalination, Israel has learned to farm in spite of the aridity of the area and proud of its achievements uses the land to grow beautiful tasty and above all healthy produce. Being able to share this expertise could mean vast improvements in the lives of all of its neighbours.

H.E. Ambassador Aviv Shir-On and chefs Jonathan Borowitz and Amit Aaronsohn.

Israelis travel

It is almost de rigueur for young graduates to travel the world upon their release from the army. From Cuzco to Laos you’ll find internet shops with Hebrew letters stuck to the keyboards. This has given most Israelis an international outlook. Take the two festival chefs for example.

Jonathan Borowitz travelled a year through South America and studied cooking at the famous International Culinary Center in New York. He is inspired by the home cooking of his family and friends and is obsessed by the methods in culinary science.

The combination of seeing what mothers and grandmothers cook all over the world combined with the professional rigour one is taught by the teachers at the ICC or any of the other top cooking schools, is what makes Israeli food so special.

Amit Aaronsohn has found on his travels that cooks anywhere speak the same language. He is a food writer, TV show host and sees himself as an ambassador for the food revolution that has taken place in Israel. He has a Masters degree in Food, Culture and Communication UNISIG, the Italian University of Gastronomic Sciences.

He spent the 80’s and 90’s chasing the world’s cuisines and now spends his time in search of the true new Israeli cuisine. “It is exciting”, he says, “but there is a great cloud hanging over us in the shape of millions of Palestinians. Imagine what we could do together if they were a proper nation, and we could sit and eat together in peace.”

Ambassador Aviv Shir-on emphasises that Israel is a start-up country and a high-tech powerhouse that is used to look outward for inspiration. That is as true in cooking as it is in agriculture and in chip design. It shows in the original combinations of flavours of Israeli foods, mixes of Middle Eastern, East European, Indian, East Asian etc.

Food is not just physical nourishment, but one of the essential pleasures of life. People all over want to improve their lives. And good food and good wine can help people reach the promised land of togetherness in peace.





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