Irit’s Eggplant: New, But Familiar Waters

Having lived in Tel Aviv for all of three weeks, I’m constantly amazed and occasionally overwhelmed by all of the flavors right around my apartment. As Delicious Israel’s new intern, I felt my first tour came from a visitor’s perspective. Inbal exposed us to local treasures ranging from Shlomo & Doron’s Humshuka to a Levinsky Market goat cheese-stuffed hibiscus. The tour’s highlight, however, was my culinary and cultural experience with Irit’s Eggplant.

We turned a corner from Shlomo & Doron’s and waited outside the door of what I thought was a house. Closed on Sundays, Irit made a last-minute exception for our tour group; she rushed up shortly behind us carrying a handful of fresh vegetables from the shuk. Upon entering we saw an eggplant slow-roasting over the stove, which Irit soon peeled, coated in lemon, garlic, and tehina, and plated on a wooden cutting board with tomato and basil. Rumor has it, there is a famous Israeli chef named Moshe Segev who is famous for his eggplant dish ... we now know where he learned it from. 

I then experienced two very Israeli moments. The drizzle having just stopped, Irit asked us to pull a table and some chairs onto her “patio” (which Americans would call the middle of the street). She then insisted that we drink something along with our snack. I followed her into her house, where she quickly over-stacked my arms with coffee ingredients and mugs, a routine I’m accustomed to from helping my mother and grandmother prepare for guests. Only after the coffee was ready were we allowed to eat.

Though I’m a new Tel Aviv resident, the most minor details of my interactions with Irit and other restauranteurs give me a strong sense of belonging. I look forward to sharing these experiences with my fellow culinary adventurers during my time here.