COMMON FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Pomegranate, eggplant, mint, lemon, cucumber, tomato, thyme (zatar),
Israelis drink their tea sweet and their coffee bitter.
Salad. Salad for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Chop the vegetable very fine. Cucumbers & tomatoes are the most common, topped with olive oil, salt, lemon, and/or tahini.
Tahini. “If you like tahini, it goes on everything.”
Hummus: A blended chickpea dish, often topped with tahini, fava beans (ful), parsley, sliced hardboiled eggs, whole chickpeas, pine nuts, and/or olive oil. It is filling. Don’t kid yourself – order a small bowl.
Falafel. The quick-and-dirty vegetarian street food that’s everywhere, and damn good. Order in a pita (pocket bread).
Shawarma. The quick-and-dirty meaty street food that’s everywhere, and damn good. Order it with lafa (thick flat bread).
Bourekas: A Turkish pastry filled with cheese, spiced mashed potato, thyme, mushrooms, etc.
Pita Druzi (Druze Pita). A thin flatbread, usually spread with labne, zatar, and olive oil. You can easily find it in the Golan, where there are many Druze towns. There are also a few Druze Pita kiosks in the Carmel Market, in Tel Aviv.
Bamba: the “national snack.” My friend in Seattle called them “peanut butter cheetos.” That’s a pretty good description!
Bisli: a hard bite-sized snack, make from fried pasta.
Halvah: A puree’d-sesame dish with an odd texture and a nutty aftertaste. Comes in all types of flavors, all colors.
Knafe: Melted cheese topped with crispy noodles, drenched in simply syrup and usually sprinkled with chopped pistachios. My favorite dessert.
Sahlab: a sweet pudding, usually topped with nuts, shaved coconut, etc, and drunk in a cup.
Channukah: Sufganiot (soof-gahn-ee-oht): jelly doughnuts. The fried doughnuts are eaten in remembrance of the small amount of lamp oil in the temple which miraculously burned for 8 days until more oil was ready, ensuring that the everlasting light was not extinguished.
Purim: 1) lots of alcohol, and 2) hamentaschen (oznei haman).
AND DON’T FORGET TO GRILL IT
Al HaEsh (a grill out. Literally – “on the fire”): Israelis grill outside all the time in the summer. Everyone has these small grills (no massive American BBQs, people), so it’s easy to do Al HaEsh wherever you want. Definitely grill meat, but also vegetables such as eggplant, tomatoes, onions, etc.