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.