“Tel Aviv: Food. People. Stories: A Culinary Journey With NENI” by Haya Molcho et.al.— Cosmopolitan City, Cosmopolitan Food and Stories

Molcho, Haya and Nuriel Molcho, et al. “Tel Aviv: Food. People. Stories: A Culinary Journey With NENI”,  Acc Art Books, 2019).

Cosmopolitan City, Cosmopolitan Food and Stories

Amos Lassen

Having lived in Israel for many years, I spent a lot of time in Tel Aviv and even lived there for a year but that was many years ago. The Tel Aviv that I knew was just beginning to become the colorful, diverse, cosmopolitan and modern city it is today. Tel Aviv grew with the rest of the state but it had an extra dimension of being something of an international city— a place where the world meets, where cultures, traditions and religion traditions merge. It is constantly changing and actually could be anywhere in the world and I believe that what distinguished it as an Israel city is that everyone speaks Hebrew. I remember that not many people used to go to restaurants for meals and Israeli cuisine was nothing special but that has all changed. As Tel Aviv came of age so did her menus. “Tel Aviv: Food. People. Stories: A Culinary Journey With NENI” is a look at today’s Tel Aviv through atmospheric photos, exciting stories and local recipes, Haya Molcho, founder of NENI restaurants, herself grown up in Tel Aviv, and her sons, Nuriel, Elior, Nadiv and Ilan, paint a living portrait of their vibrant and ever-changing hometown.

We get many NENI recipes that are “complemented by dishes prepared by local restaurateurs and connoisseurs” that reflect the Tel Aviv’s diverse cuisine. There are recipes for  foods that I have never heard of before and they are mouth-watering. Some come from Haya’s youth and all are prepared with local ingredients that are memories of the taste of Haya’s childhood. These include Sabick sandwich, green shakshuka, lamb with figs and grapes, cactus fruit sorbet among others so it is best to read this after you have already eaten something so you will not be hungry.  What I real love about this book are the stories that go along with the recipes and we all know that the best way to get to know someone is to have a meal with them. We get shared food, shared stories and shared fun reading this.

The stories we read here are those of local chefs and story-tellers (“from the epicures and the urban forager, to the magician and the survivor – capturing the special spirit of the city’s many cuisines and inhabitants. Haya revisits the recipes of her home town, re-creating the flavors of her childhood: knafeh, green shakshuka, sarma, Israeli paella, pickled lemons and much more”).

Physically, the book is beautiful and it is filled with gorgeous photographs and wonderful stories. When Haya opened the first NENI restaurant, it was a hit with its

traditional Israeli cuisine mixed with Mediterranean and Romanian influences. What we have is a book of recipes alongside of biographies and interviews with local people from all walks of life. For anyone who wants to prepare some new items, this book is great and for those who like good stories and photos, this is also a book for them.

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