Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Farmer's Market Vs. The Shuk

Perhaps one of the glimmers of hope in our time is a renewed focus on the sources and contents of the food we eat. Many cities have seen renewed interest in their farmer's markets, but in Israel, the shuk has been a focal point of shopping for a very long time.

Cincinnati's Findley Market and St. Louis' Soulard Farmer's Market (and now Tower Grove) have long been known for being a produce lover's paradise, replete with more affordable produce, often brought to market by the farmers themselves. There is no atmosphere quite like that produced by a produce-heavy market; people inspecting each piece of fruit for blemishes, trying not to lose their children, bumping into each other in the confined spaces...

Now imagine all of that color and sound, only bigger, fresher, cheaper, and filled with one of the most ridiculous groups of people on the planet, known affectionately as 'Israelis'. This is Mahane Yehuda.

Located in Central Jerusalem, Mahane Yehuda is the place to get everything from fresh produce and breads (challah and pita are a must), to spices, meats, cheeses, and pastries. Patches of fire-truck red explode (no pun intended) from bunches of peppers, deep purple plums draw you in, while whole sacks of 20 spices you can't even name (zatar?) fill the air with pungent aromas. And then there is the rugelach..... most Americans swear by the rugelach at Marzipan, and it is cheap enough to be really deadly.

For the real experience, though, you have to see Mahane Yehuda on a Friday afternoon, during the pre-Shabbat shopping crunch. Everyone and their grandmother is there buying food for Shabbat dinner. Black hat, Ultra-Orthodox Jews are grabbing a few final avocados, secular Israelis are grabbing Challahs, Americans on Birthright are getting in the way, literally everyone is there.

We took a quick and dirty video to show you some of the sights and sounds:

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Have fun in the Holy City, Yoni.