by Einat Admony and Janna Gur
It’s a wild, ribboned highway out there awash with colorful, mouthwatering cookbooks, and “Shuk” is no exception. These two female culinary experts combine to publish almost 400 pages of bright photos of pomegranates, pistachios coming alive, orange peel bursting, beet latkes sizzling and stuffed onions gushing in these recipes galore.
The title bounces off what’s inside: descriptions of real Middle East shuks: open air mazes with restaurants mingled among the food for sale from Old Akko to Carmel. With shuk-like vibes, chiles, amba (mango relish), feta, so many exotic spices combine with rose water, bakharat, hawaij, and filfel (not falafel, but peppers). Some would claim the more unusual, the better.
Israel has always been in the eye of discussion about what is truly Israeli versus a mélange of Yemenite (breads), Persian (rice), Moroccan (tagines), and even Bukharian and Ethiopian, anywhere from which we wandered, emigrated and landed at Ben Gurion Airport.
Many restaurants are trending menus now mirroring food that is served at the family table at home.
Admony and Gur do not disappoint. The former is chef and owner of Balaboosta, Kish-Kash and Taïm restaurants in New York City and lives in Brooklyn.
Gur was born in Riga, Latvia, and is now the founder of Al Hashulchan, the premier Israeli food and wine magazine. She has published nearly 40 cookbooks and lives in Tel Aviv.
The book is categorized easily: Obsession with tahina and chickpeas, salad, soups, chicken, vegetable heroes, dairy and eggs, rice, ktzitzot, the flavor of fire, couscous, breads, and sweet endings.
Danny Meyer, founder of Union Square Hospitality Group stated on the book cover, “So much more than a cookbook, ‘Shuk’ is a transporting adventure through Israel’s spirited markets, sun drenched seasons, and delicious intercultural exchanges.” So, at the same time, we learn a lot about culture, and just what is Doro Wot?
Practical Shuk Tips
Warning: If someone asks, “Do you want Hareef?” Super hot and spicy! Be careful!
Wait until you get to the market to decide what the recipe should be. Tomatoes and cucumbers are most important. If they’re not top quality, don’t compromise, switch ingredients. Taste as you go at the market. Respond to the character of your ingredients.
Similar to timing shopping at a grocery store, do not read this book hungry!
This book will be featured at noon Nov 13 in conversation with Ligaya Figueras, Food and Dining senior editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A kosher lunch is included.