What is Israeli Food
It is Hummus and Pitah. You can "lenagev" (literally in English- wipe) the humus with the Pita in a circle or straight across, (swirl your pita in the hummus) clockwise or counterclockwise. Don't be bashful. It's nice; you dip your pita in the central plate". (How in the world do you explain what "lenageve" is in English to Europeans?)
There are so many ways to discuss this topic. We can discuss it from the perspective of what people eat in Israel. We can discuss what appears on Israeli menus in restaurants worldwide and then hummus, falafel and "niguvim" (wiping) can provide a reasonable answer to the question of what Israeli's eat. When someone asks me what Israeli food is, I would like to find a food or style which we contributed and not something we confiscated.
Falafel? Forget it. Falafel is not ours, and Shakshuka, hummus and Arabic salad are not ours. We may prepare them very well, and we may have our own versions which we oh so love, but they're not ours.
It is difficult for me to say that there is no such thing as Israeli food.
I can easily explain what Jewish food is and its origin. Hamin/Tscholent is something that is handed down latitudinally and longitudinally throughout the history and geography of the Jewish people. Shephardic or Ashkenazi, each community has his own style, seasoning and ingredients. But, every good Jewish home needs to have good Tscholent on Saturday. It is rich, hot and satisfying and the cooking needs to be finished before Shabbat. My non-Jewish friends claim that the most Jewish thing is chicken soup, which is considered one of the best kept secrets of the Mosad. My dear friends, in due respect of Jewish food, it has something Diaspora about it and we are searching for Israeli food.
What then do we have here? The food here in the home and at restaurant kitchens are of the most rich and diverse in the world. In my opinion, New York and London are the only two places that can compete with the abundance and choice offered in Israel. But what we have and they don't are Polish that prepare Couscous and Chraime (popular Moroccan fish and vegetable dishes); Tunisians that prepare Gefilte Fish (a well-known Polish dish); Romanians that prepare Kubba. There are very few kitchens from around the world that are not represented here in Israel.
From a close glance I can say that Israelis are the ones who dare. They aren't afraid of new tastes and innovation.
We will have a kitchen of our own. I simply believe that it is impossible to imprint a certain culinary or other stamp within several decades.
With the ingathering of the exiles, we have very talented and creative chefs, first rate raw material and we are no doubt a nation that likes to eat and gives food the respect and patience it deserves and needs.
But, in the end everyone longs to return home. And everyone has their own home. For Israelis who live in a foreign land for awhile, Israel is cottage cheese (and in general, milk products) and small tasty cucumbers, good olives and wonderful pastry. We can add several unique products to these categories: soup almonds, "petitim" and bamba. Did you know that abroad (even in well-regarded restaurants) petitim are called "Israeli Couscous"? Also, did you know that there is a competition for the best falafel on the boulevard? Did you know that hotel chains have included Israeli breakfasts on their menus?
When I want to return to home cooking, I can taste the small cut salad, dark bread and butter. At the same time I also think about couscous, petitim or chicken soup, at the end of meal a steaming hot cup of tea with mint.
In conclusion: Israeli food is so many memories, is a diversity of flavors from all the ethnic groups together and nonetheless slowly but surely we are building our own brand. But patience, it can't be done in 60 years; we need a bit more time