Herbal Krembo, Anyone?

Without doubt, the culinary trends of recent years are those of ever-more weird combinations of food along with increasingly wacky and bizarre ingredients that most people, until now, would not have even considered to be food.For example, take British chef Heston Blumenthal and his restaurant, the Fat Duck (it sounds great in Hebrew, Barvaz (duck) Hashamen (The Fat) – ברווז השמן). Named the best restaurant in the world in 2005, the Fat Duck delights in serving such delicacies as mustard ice-cream and snail porridge!More recently, there’s the Danish restaurant Noma, current holder of the Best Restaurant in the World title. In 2003, chef Rene Redzepi decided that he wanted to put Scandinavian cuisine on the map and, as such, vowed only to use ingredients from the region. This left him rather short on many more traditional foods, olive oil, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and so forth, so instead he serves pickled roses, beach cabbage, and scurvy grass (weeds to you and me).But now, here in Israel, we’ve got the Shakuf restaurant in Jaffa (Shakuf – שקוף in Hebrew means clear or transparent, all though it’s not immediately apparent if the name has any bearing on the restaurant). Chef Elad Shem Tov is avowedly seasonal, so, for instance, he won’t have anything to do with tomatoes and cucumbers during the winter but will concentrate on root vegetables such as candy-striped beets instead. Fancy some beet ice-cream? Or maybe a herbal Krembo? All this and more is on the menu at Shakuf’s.To some, it could seem like Shakuf is simply jumping on the weird-food bandwagon, but it might, nevertheless, turn out to be a positive development. While there are some really outstanding restaurants in Israel these days, most Israeli food is not uniquely Israeli. Jews from Russia, Poland, and Germany imported traditional Eastern Europe fare, and the Jews who came to Israel from North Africa and the Middle East brought over the food they had cooked and grown up with.There’s not too much we can say is authentically Israeli. Krembo, for sure, is a pretty good addition to world cuisine, and these miniature bombs of marshmallow in their chocolate shells are certainly an important gastronomic development (they are also very seasonal — they are sold only during the winter, which is presumably why they’re on Shakuf’s menu at the moment).Other than Krembo’s, though, there’s not too much to shout about, so perhaps we should all be brainstorming for ways to put Israeli cuisine on the map? If you can have mustard ice-cream in Britain, then why not hummus fondue in Israel? If eating Danish weeds is alright, then how about a nice fresh salad of anise shoots and cyclamen petals (both native to Israel)?So, get thinking! All culinary suggestions are welcome, and if you want to learn the Hebrew words for all the wacky recipes you come up with, Ulpan-Or will be happy to indulge your taste for the language, no matter what you throw at us (no rotten tomatoes, though — they’re not in season!)


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