THIS IS ME
Writer, Photographer, and Lemon Obsessed
For my entire life, my grandmother has been forcing me to eat. She’s Jewish and Persian, which means a lot of meat, a lot of rice, and a lot of guilt if you don’t eat everything on your plate and go back for seconds. But after two years of living in Israel, food is not just food to me anymore. It’s my entire Friday morning, preparing challah as I imagine the stranger whose recipe I’ve adopted, wondering if she’s kneading her dough as I am kneading mine and whether she is “crying into it,” an ingredient her recipe calls for. It’s preparing and cooking rice the same way my great-grandmother did in Iran more than eighty years ago, feeling the same things she felt as wet grains wash over my fingers and the jubilant relief when a glorious, crunchy, orangey-yellow, shiny, unbroken tahdiq (don’t worry, we’ll get to this later…) unhooks from the bottom sides of the pot.
The “My Jerusalem Kitchen” blog is a reminder that when I walk into my kitchen to cook, I am not alone. I am bringing with me the sun-dried tomato paste recipe a stranger offered to me in the market one day, the salad spoons a Georgian shop owner gave to me in exchange for teaching him how to use the Internet, and the handed-down recipes and secret ingredients old women have clutched to their chests for generations. Broadly speaking though, my “Jerusalem Kitchen” is a state of mind, a choice: fresh produce, attention to detail, attention to budget!, hand-me-down recipes, and traditional methods. It’s a reminder food can connect us to our culture and heritage while also propelling us toward the people we will become.
More than anything in this country, I will miss the Mahane Yehuda market (“the shuk”), where my spice guy Noam always asks me what I’m making this week and gives me a free spice to try; where the Iraqi kohlrabi seller screams at my fiancé, “This guy loves my kohlrabi! Tell everyone here how good my kohlrabi is!” and winks as he puts a radish in our bag for its “aphrodisiac quality.” The shuk is where I grew a tough skin amidst the elderly women and men who elbow, shove and fight their way in for the freshest bell pepper; where, when you run out of money, someone passes you a shekel or two without hesitation; where everyone tries to marry you to their son; and where we can all come together and recognize a common love: good food.
Unless otherwise noted, all content and photographs are taken by me.
All Rights Reserved. Please do not repost my content or use my photos without obtaining prior permission. Thank you!