The food we’ll miss the most…

I’ve always felt like the French would win the gold medal in a breadmaking competition, but after this trip, I’ve got to say that Israeli breads would give them a run for their money! Hands down, all 3 of us feel like the food we’ll miss the most from this trip are the Israeli breads we had while here.

It all started on our first night, when we took a cab south through Tel Aviv to the old port city of Jaffa. Our cab driver was great, full of recommendations of places to go and things to see – in particular, he was a bit of a foodie so we chatted about restaurants for most of the drive. When we reached Jaffa, he excitedly pointed out a small bakery on the side of the road. “That,” he said, “is Said Abuelafia. It’s the most famous arab bakery in Tel Aviv, and has been open since 1876.”

The small photo doesn’t really do it justice, but check out some of my larger images to get a real sense for it. The place is so popular that often the police have to stand in front of the store to keep people from double-parking and blocking the entire road that passes it. We decided to hop out of the cab right there, and since it was 7pm we were getting a bit hungry, and decided to buy some breads. These guys – and the other amazing breadmakers throughout Israel – cook their breads in traditional brick wood- and gas-fired ovens.

I had a flatbread (about the size of a personal pizza) covered with a paste made of a green spices and olive oil. Later I learned the spice was called “Zaatar.” Here they are selling it in the local market – I really should have thought to buy some before coming home, but it didn’t cross my mind until too late:

One of the other guys got something that looked like an elongated bagel coated with sesame seeds. We took a bite or two and realized we’d hit the jackpot – this wasn’t going to be a snack before dinner – this would BE dinner! We proceeded to hover in front of the store, scarfing our first choices and going back for more.

Needless to say, anytime we saw a bakery during the rest of our visit, we were sure to stop and buy something! The food in Israel is wonderful – we had some fantastic meals while there – but the bread truly won us over!

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~ by Nathan on October 25, 2007.

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