As a half Israeli and full foodie, I am so glad to finally see the trend of Israeli and Middle Eastern cuisine rapidly picking up here in America. According to San Francisco-based consulting firm AF&Co, they concluded that Israeli cuisine is the new trend to watch out for in 2018 and are calling this the “cuisine of the year.”
Israeli food is finally having a moment (or two) in America. And since moving back from Israel, almost three years ago, I have been anxiously awaiting for Israeli food to pick up here. This trend is something that’s been rapidly growing all across the US. If you’ve gone to restaurants recently — especially in cities like New York, New Orleans, LA, Philadelphia, Denver and Chicago — you may have seen several items on menus not just serving general “Middle Eastern” cuisine, but actual Israeli food.
In the past year, there was the opening of The Exchange Restaurant in Los Angeles, whose menu “explores the multicultural flavors of urban LA through an Israeli lens.” Nur in New York opened and it is Israeli chef, Meir Adoni’s restaurant that is considered to be “Modern Middle Eastern” food with “nods to Israeli and Jewish cooking”, The James Beard Award-winning chef, Alon Shaya just opened Safta in Denver and it’s sister spot, Saba, in New Orleans.
While it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly one reason why Israeli food is taking off, here are some theories.
- Israeli food today compiles the traditions of over a hundred cultures that have been living in and around Israel. There are foods from Bulgaria, Romania, Iran, Morocco, North Africa, Yemen, Ethiopia, Georgia, the Balkans, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, and Turkey (and probably a lot more not mentioned here).
- Israeli food uses simple ingredients like chickpeas, rice, eggplant, winter squash, tomatoes, tahini and beets to create extravagant and tasty dishes.
- Fresh, healthy and sustainable food is embedded in the Israeli cuisine, a trend that Americans are finally trying to incorporate into their diets. The Israeli diet emphasizes healthy fats, lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and veggies, along with hardly any red wine or sugar.
- And… IT IS DELICIOUS.
As Israeli chefs set up shop in cities across the U.S., we’re excited to see how the trend continues to develop.
What are your favorite Israeli dishes and have you incorporated any of them on your menu?