Photo: Shai Yehezkel
Photo: Tom Lahat
I have yet to have a piece of steak here that makes my eyes water at its glory
Photo: Tom Lahat

Land of milk and hummus

In new column, Danish journalist and model Morten Berthelsen offers fresh view on everything pertaining to Israeli food culture

My parents' farm in rural Denmark is a certified zoo. Not quite the exotic variety of the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem, but it is teaming with life – mainly sheep and chickens.


Over the years we've reared hundreds of pigeons, quite a number of rabbits, and I once even tried to “grow” geese – and failed miserably, thank you Mr. Fox. We've had plenty of dogs and cats, too, but those are exempt from the dinner table, literally speaking. The chickens and sheep, however...


This defines my relationship with food. I'm not picky in the slightest, and extremely omnivorous. Growing up with your food, you end up eating what's on your plate and giving everything at least one try.


I've helped deliver lambs, fed them and watched them grow up, dealt the killing blow and enjoyed their meat on a Friday night. I used to give the sheep names as a kid, until I realized why Josephine had suddenly disappeared.

עוברת דירה עם מורטן לישראל? אולי. פסל בת הים הקטנה שבקופנהגן (צילום: AFP)

Moving with Morten to Israel? Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen (Photo: AFP)


I came to Israel because it is so different to Denmark. For an aspiring journalist, it's a perfect place to learn on the job. The modeling was an unexpected but pleasant bonus. And indeed, so was the food.


You hear so much about Israel, but almost nothing about the cuisine, which is rather ridiculous, because the food is mostly fantastic. That's something I want to change.

אבן שואבת לעיתונאים. ישראל (צילום: AP) 

Israel, a perfect place for an aspiring journalist (Photo: AP)


I am now writing a comprehensive travel guide to Israel for the Scandinavian audience. It's a book that hasn't been revised for 13 years, and its time has come, especially given the growing interest in Israel from that part of the world.


For any traveler in a foreign country, food is high up on, if not top of, the list of criteria, and it's my job to root out the best that Israel can offer. Hopefully at the same time I can help an Israeli or two rediscover the wonders of the local kitchen.


In the Danish countryside, there's an emphasis on raw food – you pick and hunt your ingredients, and then you cook with them. It is this philosophy that has made Noma in Copenhagen the best restaurant in the world today.

מבינים דבר או שניים באוכל טוב. מסעדת נומה שבדנמרק (צילום: רויטרס) 

Noma in Copenhagen. Best retaurant in the world (Photo: Reuters)


It's something you can appreciate in Israel as well, with its spectacular fruit and vegetables. Places like Pua in Jaffa, Shefer at the Carmel Market, and Mezze on Ehad Ha'am Street all have wonderful salads, and there are many more that I have yet to discover. But, and it's a big one, I have yet to have a piece of steak here that makes my eyes water at its glory.


So without finely honed taste buds or a false air of pretension, how can I offer you any advice or worthwhile tales on this culinary exploration? Quite simply, appreciation. I'll eat anything and everything, anywhere and at any time.


I'm not going to pretend to be any kind of connoisseur of all things culinary, rather offer a fresh view on everything pertaining to Israeli/Jewish/Palestinian/Arab food culture, and all it entails – the similarities and differences to what I grew up with, and the finer details in between, be they generally about food, or specific restaurants, dishes, service (or the lack of it), or traditions.


And for that, I need your input. Please share your views, recommendations, tales, unmissable culinary experiences, everything. I'll take particularly kindly to missions or dares, if not only for the fun of it, then to prove that I really do eat everything.


So give me a hand on my way. I'd really appreciate it. Thank you.


Next time: Morten is going to dive into a lot of hummus…



פרסום ראשון: 09.08.12, 08:29
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