May 1, 2013

Is Galilee the next Tuscany?  

This month Saveur magazine has a beautiful (and beautifully written) feature on the food and cooking of the Galilee region of Israel, by Gabriella Gershenson.

Galilee is indeed one of the world's great undiscovered food regions– rich in culture, produce, cuisine, even wine.  

In writing about the food, she of course must write about the people and their connection to that very special land, and, of course, their recipes. 

Gabriella wisely spends time with Erez Komarovsky in Mattat– Erez, whom I've written about before here–  is the Richard Olney of Israel, and Gabriella paints a picture of her visit to his secluded farm/cooking school that will make any sane person want to get on a plane, fork in hand, and head there now.  Here's a sample:

When everything is ready, Erez and I dig in. The cherry and herb salad is zesty and sweet. The recipe is from the Turks, Erez says, who occupied this land for centuries. The roasted eggplant, meanwhile, tastes smoky and fresh, the combination of nutty tahini, hot chiles, and garlic one you'd find all over the Middle East. “In the Galilee, the influences are not from abroad but from the Druze and Arabs living here,” Erez explains. “The richness of the culinary knowledge that I get here is unparalleled to what you get in the big city.” Here, Erez picks mushrooms with Jewish Moroccans and Kurds, makes goat cheese out of milk from a Druze neighbor, and buys the foods they forage. Because of the divisions inherent in modern Israeli life, and the tensions between Arabs and Jews, his culinary curiosity feels like a political act, one that emphasizes the way the land connects the people. Before I leave, Erez tells me, “Borders are politics. Borders do not cut the food.”

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