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When we arrived in Israel we expected to stuff ourselves with Middle Eastern treats such as falafel and hummus, what we didn’t expect was some of the tastiest fruit and sweetest pastries of our journey. Israel has managed to create vast produce farms out of desert land, making street corner fresh squeezed fruit juice stands as ever-present as, well, street corners. They don’t ignore the good stuff though, the Eastern European heritage of many immigrants is reflected in the sweet cakes and pastries sold at every bakery.
Israel had the best-looking produce we’ve seen. Basically if it’s something that grows out of the ground, you can make juice out of it. Our favorite was fresh squeezed oranges and pomegranates with a touch of ginger and mint. Unlike the fruit smoothies we’ve seen in America, the Israelis don’t add any sugar or sugar syrup. With fruit this ripe and sweet, who needs it?
Mahane Yehuda Market Jerusalem
We were lucky to be staying only a block from the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem. On Fridays, it was elbow-room only as the jostling crowds set a festive atmosphere as they prepared for the Sabbath. The picture of the challah vendor at the top of this post was taken at Mahane Yehuda.
Part of the market is covered while the rest spills out onto the surrounding streets.
Tempting bowls of dried fruits, nuts and spices.
What’s a market in Jerusalem without some of the namesake artichokes?
There is no shortage of cookies and sweets at the market.
Can you tell us what this is called? It’s a crispy phyllo-type dough wrapped around cheese, spinach and potatoes with sesame seeds sprinkled on top. It was served hot right out of the oven and was incredibly delicious.
We’re not sure why this man was dancing on the top of a van at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, but we did feel like we had just walked onto the set of Fiddler on the Roof.
Carmel Market Tel Aviv
The most popular market in Tel Aviv is the Carmel Market where shoppers can buy anything from food to clothing to electronics.
Despite all the healthy Mediterranean food in Israel, those with a sweet tooth can still be satisfied.
A lot of kibbitzing goes on at the market.
And what’s a good meal without some dessert at the end?
This kosher gelato is non-dairy so it would also be good for those who are lactose intolerant.
We couldn’t understand the Hebrew writing on these pastries but a slice of each worked out just fine.
When we ordered our waffles à la mode (with chocolate hazelnut) at this restaurant in Jerusalem, we didn’t realize it already came with heaping mounds of ice cream and whipped cream on the side.
Overall we really enjoyed the food in Israel. At one point we were getting a little hummused out after being in the Middle East for a few months, but a stop at our neighborhood juicer would invigorate us just enough to start diving back into the delicious local treats.
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