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Why modern Israeli food has become an international hit

May, 17 2022
Why modern Israeli food has become an international hit

Throughout the cities of the UK, the US and Europe, you’ll see stands selling incredible Israeli cuisine. As the food culture changes around the world, with street food and less formal dining taking hold globally, Israeli food fits right in. Whether it’s incredibly moist and fragrant falafel, herb-laden plant-based dips and side dishes, carefully spiced and grilled lamb and beef, or beautiful-made flatbreads to mop up all the delectable juices, Israeli food is having a moment, and we can’t see it ending any time soon.

The rise and rise of Israeli food

‘Middle Eastern’ cuisine has long been popular throughout Europe and the US, but eateries tended to serve the same dishes again and again, sticking to favourites and failing to designate which country’s cuisine was actually featured on the menu. How many times have you been to a ‘mezze restaurant’, a ‘Middle Eastern’ restaurant or a cafe specialising in ‘Mediterranean cuisine’?

Things are changing and now see restaurants proudly declaring that they service ‘Israeli’ food. This is because people specifically want to eat food from Israel. They know it’s going to be good. Well-known chefs, such as Yottam Ottolenghi and Nir Messika, have helped spread the world about Israeli food, bringing it straight from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to New York and London.

What’s so great about modern Israeli cuisine?

It’s for sharing

When you consider the way most people like to eat these days, you can start to see why Israeli food is having a ‘moment’. First of all, it’s food that lends itself to communal eating and dining. It’s casual and egalitarian by nature. Often, everyone shares what’s served on the table and dining is informal and fun. People talk while they eat and they aren’t expected to adhere to conventions and formalities. 

When it comes to eating out, so many people now prefer this approach to dining. Eating out used to be a big deal, It’s no longer an ‘event’ demanding formalwear and starched white table linens. Most of the time, eating out is intended to be a fun and informal experience, all about sharing a meal with loved ones and enjoying each other’s company. Israeli food is all about sharing something delicious with great company, so it stands to reason that Israel’s cuisine is becoming more and more popular.

It’s brilliant for vegetarians, pescatarians and vegans

Although Israeli food does contain some meat (usually healthily-grilled beef or lamb), much of the food enjoyed in Israel is plant-based. Jewish people often steer clear of processed foods to make sure what they are eating is Kosher, so Israeli people love fresh, wholesome dishes using plenty of vegetables. Dips, salads, and alternative proteins, like tempeh, eggs and falafel, are commonplace as an alternative to meat, and fruits and vegetables take centre stage.

Here are some of the very best dishes to come out of Israel in recent years, spreading across the globe and becoming popular across the US and Europe:

  • Sabich

Sabich is a type of sandwich often served by street vendors in Israel. The pita-like bread is stuffed with hard-boiled eggs, fried aubergine (eggplant), tahini, Israeli salad and a pickled mango-based sweet-tangy sauce called amba. Delicious, inexpensive, and not a scrap of meat in sight!

  • Tahini

Tahini, in all its forms, is a light paste or sauce made primarily from sesame seeds. You can get white tahini and black tahini and the sauce is fantastically nutty and rich. It is a common ingredient in Hummus, which has, itself, become a staple in many household fridges, including those thousands of miles away from Israel!

  • Gazoz

As fewer and fewer young people rely on alcohol when socialising, and growing numbers of consumers look for beautiful, natural drinks that offer something new, Israel’s ‘gazoz’ are growing popular all over the globe. These are sparkling drinks flavoured and sweetened with wholly natural ingredients. Herbs, spices and fresh and fermented fruits are popular and these drinks both look and taste beautiful. There’s even a book to help you make your own at home.

  • Israeli salad

This finely chopped salad, consisting of tomatoes, cucumber, onion and parsley, is simple and refreshing. Perfect served with Shwarma kebabs, halloumi cheese or alongside dips like Hummus and baba ganoush, this beautifully fresh little salad is becoming popular around the globe.

Fancy adding Israeli dishes to your menus? Talk to Leslie today about how we can make menu changes simple, while boosting your sales.