A Taste of Israel: Questions for Janna Gur
The Prism Cooking Circle and the Israeli Consulate had an enlightening and delicious evening at Gordon’s Liquors with Janna Gur, renowned Israeli food critic and writer, on May 3rd. The evening was so wonderful that we had to follow up with Janna and ask her a few more questions! Take notes if you’re a foodie, or if you’re heading to Israel any time soon- Janna is the real deal!
What the most memorable part of your trip to Boston?
I love Boston; it has such a European feel to it and is a real city which is quite rare in the US. But this particular trip was very short and all about work.
So my most memorable experience was the events – the one at Gordon's was great because of the audience and the spontaneity and the next evening with the Israelis. I gave the same lecture but it was very different because of the audience and in both cases it was great fun.
What’s the one Israeli food every American must try/come to Israel to try?
A bit difficult to mention one kind food, but here are some "must" food experiences:
- Have breakfast or brunch in a good restaurant. Many Israeli restaurants serve breakfasts, which is pretty special. My favorites are Manta Ray and Dallal – both in TLV
- Eat street food, and not just falafel – try Turkish bourekas, Tunisian sandwich, sabich, shawarma, Jerusalem mixed grill havitat yerek (something between a latkes and a herb omelet, served in a pita) and a nice chilled malabi.
- Look out for boutique ice cream parlours– Vaniglia and Iceberg are my favorites. Israeli artisanal ice cream is closer to Italian gelato, with less cream and very pronounced and original flavors.
- Have real hummus at a specialized hummus place, such as Abu Hassan in Jaffa, the Syrian (Hasuri) at the Carmel Market in TLV, at Ta'ami or Pinati in Jerusalem or Lina in the old city of Jerusalem.
- Order vegetable based dishes even in the best restaurants. You probably won't have your best steak in Israel, but you might experiencing the best salad imaginable.
- Spend enough time in TLV (for many many reasons and definitely for the food), and treat yourself to an amazing dinner in a really good restaurant. My current favorites are: Herbert Samuel, North Abraxas, Kitchen Market, Mizlala and Hotel Montefiore.
Did you eat at any especially good restaurants in Boston? If so, what was the best thing you ate?
Not on this round, sorry… I will have to come back (:
How did you discover Michael Pollan and why is he “your God”?
I read the article "Unhappy meals" in the NYT several years ago and felt as if someone is reading my mind and answering questions that bothered me concerning the unhappy state of modern food world and agriculture and how come we get so much dietary advice and still get fatter and sicker. It was quite a revelation and since then we have read all his books and his ideas shaped the way we eat and think about food. In Israel, we are afflicted with the same problems as the rest of the Western world, but if you choose to eat healthy and natural food Israel is probably one of the easiest places to do so – with so many delicious veggies and such a strong and diverse cooking culture.
Aside from being the editor of Al Hashulchan Magazine (think Gourmet of Israel), Janna is also the author of The Book of New Israeli Food, which we highly recommend!