Jerusalem in food, in pictures

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL December 20, 2019

Resign yourself to it: unless you eat a falafel pitta sandwich (very good from the shop at Damascus Gate, opposite the bakery) or a couple of kibeh or a 15-shekel arayes, food is expensive in Jerusalem.

We were shocked. The baker opposite the falafel shop at Damascus Gate sells four pitta for 5 shekel, which works out to 1.20 apiece or 35 US cents. That’s roughly 20 pence. In the UK, one can buy six pitta for 90 pence (albeit not fresh from the baker).

The baker also sells a different, heavier, more flavourful bread – large and  slipper-shaped – for 2.50  shekel, which is about 80 US cents. In Tunisia, by contrast, the local bread – tabouna – is very cheap and plentiful.

A friend of ours, who’s been in and out of Israel for decades, has a theory that food and everything else is so expensive here because 40 to 60 per cent of state spending goes to military hardware, most of which, in turn, goes to the US to pay for supplies.

Whatever the truth of the matter, food is an interesting mix, not least the nod to the European roots of so many Israelis, with the ubiquitous schnitzel.   Take a look at the following vignettes:

The souks are clean and well-ordered. All photos: Rashmee Roshan Lall

The exceeding popular falafel shop at Damascus Gate

The baker opposite. Note the name of the street – Khan az zait

Kaak bel-ajweh and bagala: Palestinian date-filled cake and bread that’s reminiscent of Turkey’s simit

A variety of beer we found in a shop on King Solomon Street near Mamilla Mall, Jerusalem. We found it interesting because, as all Hindustani-speakers would know, bhindi is the vernacular for okra or ladies finger

Outrageously coloured, dayglo-bright pickled vegetables

A hill of zaataar, sumac and sesame, which is meant to depict the elevation to Haram Sharif or Temple Mount. (Notice the replica atop.) Mohammed stands proudly by. The hill was built by his brother

Hard dry laban made from ewe or goat’s milk. Melt it into a soup with water or just grate it over salad

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac