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The Answer to the Eternal Question, "What is Israeli Food?"

Even the first snow and the cold temperature did not deter almost 50 people from getting together for a tasting night with a great Israeli chef in Warren, RI this November.

The Rhode Island-Israel Collaborative (RIIC), together with Hope & Main produced this event as part of Israeli culinary month, which included a lecture with Israeli TV food critic, Gil Hovav, and a demonstration event of Israeli wine tasting. Both were successful events.

Without a doubt, the tasting event was the final highlight of a great month. Chef Geffen, who orchestrated the event and previously worked as the head chef of Dan Hotel in Haifa and a sous chef at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem (where he cooked for head of state), now runs a catering business in Boston.

The event took place at Hope & Main, an incubator whose mission is to help support initiative in the food industry. The venue is located in an old school which was transformed into a hub for food activities. To date, they have supported more than 170 businesses and initiatives. Lisa Raiola, the founder and president who opened the event said,

"In time, it's possible to do almost everything online - still one cannot eat through the internet and food brings people together in a special way."

Avi Nevel, the president and founder of the Rhode Island-Israel Collaborative (RIIC) commented,

"This is exactly the reason we planned the event at Hope & Main, a place that connects people through food," the RIIC's mission is to connect the Rhode Island community with Israel.

Chef Eran Geffen added that the food he prepared represents the memory and the culture of Israel, where he grew up. That food does not represent one kitchen but a treasure of diversified cultures of Jews who came from all over the world, and also, he pointed out most importantly, high quality ingredients.

The main event was set with serving tables on both sides of the hall. One side had a couscous dish with spicy fish that represented the influence of Moroccan cuisine and the other side had a goulash, full of flavor and texture representing European cuisine. There were also other common Israeli dishes, such as Jerusalem mixed grill, (pieces of chicken spiced with aromatic middle eastern spices) and a variety of stuffed vegetables. In an Israeli evening, how could you have an Israeli tasting event without hummus? The hummus was as good as the hummus in the old city of Jerusalem.

In between the two sides, there were multiple tables that had many great dishes and salads, such as, mixed greens with a tangy sauce, burghul and pieces of marinated fish (herring), carpaccio of red beets, baked eggplant and a unique gazpacho soup that was smooth and tasty.

The guests used pita bread and beautiful challah bread to dip into the hummus and compliment the salads. These were prepared by Guy Hanukkah, an Israeli baker who resides in Rhode Island and received his education at Johnson & Wales University.

Chef Geffen put a lot of thought into the evening and to end the meal, prepared a very light malabi dessert that was fluffy and perfect, adding to a great food sampling. Throughout the evening, the guests enjoyed Israeli wine from Barkan and Carmel wineries, courtesy of Royal Wine.

Not only the food and the wine were Israeli. Throughout the evening, two very talented Israeli student musicians from the Berkeley School of Music played Israeli music, which added to the Israeli flavor of the evening.

So for a long time, there was the question, "What is Israeli cuisine?" and we shared so many of the famous dishes that are considered a big part of Middle East cuisine, and a good many other cuisines from around the world. Jews who immigrated to Israel, brought with them their cuisine from their respective countries. Chef Geffen demonstrated to us exactly what Israeli cuisine is!

What is Israeli Cuisine?

A cuisine that integrates culture and great food, cutting edge fusion and is created in a unique way.

To learn more about Israeli cuisine, see the link to a trailer YouTube video

about Israeli cuisine by Chef Michael Solomonov, who visited the Jewish Alliance in Rhode Island in May. Some of the other chefs and critics visited us in Rhode Island, as well; Gil Hovav and Janna Gur.

Follow other events of the RIIC and Hope & Main and make sure not to miss them.

Thank you to the sponsors,

Consulate General of Israel to New England
Sid Wainer & Son
Martin Hymowitz of Royal Wine Corp.
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