One of the nicest and most distinct Israeli traditions is food. Jews coming from the Middle East and Far East, from Europe, Australia, South Africa, North and South America—all adopted the local cooking habits to their dietary laws and passed them on to their children. The cooking style of the countries where they lived came as part of their baggage when they made their way to Israel, and they blended with those who had come before them.

One thing about which there has been little debate is Israeli street foods.

It’s not an exaggeration that in the greater downtown areas of most Israeli cities and towns, there are street food kiosks on every corner! These offer a wide variety of foods for visitors and natives alike. Many of these foods have crossed the ocean and appear in North American cities, but one might ask what are the real street foods of Israel and what is their origin?

This article is the first of a series on these street foods.


Mixed Grill

I happen to have a very strong stomach, but one of my favorite foods (and one of my husband’s) is mixed grill, me’orav yerushalmi. It was said to have been invented by restaurant owners around Machaneh Yehudah, the Jewish produce market, in the 1960s when it was cooked on grills, as one stood outside and watched.

It consists of chicken livers, hearts, chicken pieces, and onions, seasoned with paprika, juniper berries, black pepper, cumin, turmeric and coriander–very quickly stir fried, and either served on a plate, or, more often, stuffed into pita.

Here, Yaacov, who was my spice vendor, decided to change professions and open the only me’orav yerushalmi restaurant in the shuk, on HaEgoz Street, the little entrance up a few steps from Agrippas, between the main entrances, Etz Chaim and Machaneh Yehudah.

  •  photo credits go to Barry A. Kaplan