As part of an online project orchestrated by the New York Times, web surfers will now be able to educate themselves on the principles of the new emerging Israeli cuisine.
The New York Times Knowledge Network commissions journalists and academics from around the world to give paid online courses for the public on a variety of topics such as art, law, politics and science. The idea of introducing an Israeli culinary course was initiated by the Israeli Consulate in New York and constitutes the first culinary course in the newspaper's online university program.
For a sum of $145 students can take part in a three-part historical and cultural journey through the evolution of Israeli cuisine from ancient times until the present day. The course will address the unique confluence of cultures in Israeli cuisine, and will introduce, for example, couscous cooking methods and the recent gastronomical trends in Tel Aviv.
"This study program is part of a growing interest that the world and especially the US has been showing recently in our cuisine," says chief editor of Al Hashulchan (“On the Table") magazine Janna Gur who constructed the course.
"Sometimes I visit culinary schools in the US and at first the young chefs don't understand why they need to learn about the food in this faraway place called Israel. I explain to them that Israel is a fascinating case where one can observe in real time how a cuisine is born."
Gur also explained that Israeli cuisine is the result of the fusion of over 60 cultures. "We have a synthesis of flavors – chopped liver and Kneidlach have been mixed in with Mediterranean flavors together with local ingredients and international seasoning," she said.
'Israel a vegetarian heaven'
According to Gur, the Israeli cuisine has undergone tremendous changes over the last thee decades. "Our cuisine is very relevant for the present day since most of it is based on vegetables and vegetarianism is the new bon ton.
"Did you know that Israelis are the only people to eat vegetable salad in the morning? Indians consider Israel a vegetarian heaven."
Students of the online course will also get a chance to view Israeli star chef Haim Cohen prepare a meal based on signature Israeli dishes. "I'm glad that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is promoting the country through food. Maybe if people saw we have this type of culture their hostility towards us would be diminished," he said.
Cohen also noted, "Israeli food is also based on the Arab cuisine. If we can't achieve comprehensive peace, at least we can have culinary co-existence."