Fresh and innovative food brings together a city of immigrants and ancient traditions.
Can a kitchen, a cuisine, a dish bring together a city as charged as it is diverse and ancient? That is the question posed by chefs and coauthors Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi in Jerusalem.
The two chefs were born in Jerusalem the same year, but on opposite sides of the city. Ottolenghi is a Jew of Italian decent, while Sami was born on the Arab side of town. The men both left the city two decades ago and made their way to London, where they finally met, in the kitchen of course, and went on to become business partners and chefs at the eponymously named Ottolenghi restaurant.
As they compared notes of childhood food and cooking memories, they were struck by how similar and how different their culinary lives were. And that is the story of Jersusalem– personal, particular, individual food experiences in a richly diverse city that’s a stew of faiths, ethnicities and nationalities.
At its heart, the food is fresh and local, because Israel imports virtually nothing, growing or producing its own food supply. Vegetables and fruits form the basis, with grains and meat playing a lesser role.
Some foods of Jerusalem are familiar: hummus, kibbeh, fattoush. Others are pure home cooking, known only to a single lucky household or family.
Here are two salads and a soup, from the ancient city of Jerusalem to your table.
Reprinted with permission from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
Freekeh is a slightly smoked green wheat. Look for it online or in Middle Eastern grocery stores.