The Jew And The Carrot

Tasting Israel: Culinary Tours of the Holy Land

By Katherine Martinelli

Katherine Martinelli

Until recently, kibbutzniks came to Israel to experience communal living, pilgrims of all religions came to bask in the spiritual glow of Jerusalem, and revelers came to party in Tel Aviv — but gourmands? That all began to change a few years ago, as boutique farming and winemaking took root in the Negev, Mahane Yahuda market in Jerusalem was revitalized, and serious chefs started setting up shop and defining a new Israeli cuisine. With the newfound appreciation of — and curiosity about — food in Israel, came numerous culinary tours.

Culinary tourism is itself a relatively new industry. According to the International Culinary Tourism Association, the term was coined in 1998 but it didn’t become a cohesive industry until 2003. Israel was not far behind. Tali Friedman of L’Atelie Tali Friedman, who was the first to offer dedicated culinary tours, began leading excursions through Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market or shuk five years ago.

A culinary school-trained chef, Friedman found working in restaurants to be incompatible with raising a family. As a native Jerusalemite who grew up near Mahane Yehuda, she knows the market and its vendors like the back of her hand. So she decided to offer tours of the market combined with cooking classes.

See a slide show of the tours after the jump.

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