The Book of New Israeli Food: A Culinary Journey
“In less than thirty years, Israeli society has graduated from Spartan austerity to a true gastronomic haven,” writes Israeli culinary journalist Janna Gur in this coffee-table-sized cookbook. Published in 2008, it offers an introduction to the foods of Israel at the time, many of which came from Arab neighbors like hummus and tabouleh. There are also recipes for dishes that Jews whose families lived in the Diaspora for centuries brought to Israel like gondi, a chicken soup with chickpea dumplings from Iran, and cholent. For those who track the development of Israel’s food scene closely, Gur’s book captures a particular moment in time. One wonders what food in Israel will look like in another 30 years.
Michael Solomonov’s recommendation of ‘The Book of New Israeli Food,’ as told to Gabriella Gershenson
Some authors are vague about what they call Israel, because politically, maybe locking into “Israel” could have limitations. Janna Gur’s “The Book of New Israeli Food” is incredibly comprehensive, very user friendly, and she doesn’t tiptoe around certain things. She honestly attributes influences to where they’re from. I think that Ron Maiberg’s “Taste of Israel” and Janna Gur’s “The Book of New Israeli Food” coincide with one another. Maiberg’s is a first look at this cuisine, calling it what it is. And Janna spells it out. She drops the mic on the subject and very easily translates all of these influences and all of these gastronomies in a way that nobody else up until that point really had.
Janna is an editor, and she is an expert on culture and gastronomy. I think that her editor’s birdseye point of view really is helpful. She approaches things in a curatorial way. For instance, I see it in her coverage of Yemenite cooking, where she talks about lachuch and so forth, and distinguishes between the different breads and pastries from that tradition. Consistently her book does the job of highlighting aspects of Israeli cuisine that are very often marginalized.
In a way, “The Book of New Israeli Food” is the culmination of all of this effort and intention she made forever and ever with her magazine, Al HaShulchan. This is sort of her thesis, because she spent so much time studying the cuisine and absorbing information and telling stories. She is just incredibly equipped. The book that she wrote came after years of observation and a lifetime of eating. It wasn’t like she was trying to get a book deal and coming up with stories. This was something that she spent her professional life paying attention to and writing about.
- Janna Gur
- Year published