FoodTrip in Jerusalem offers kosher-hallal delicacies
JERUSALEM—Several dozen Israelis – families, singles, religious, secular—sit on small rattan stools on Prophet’s Street in Jerusalem scooping up gado-gado with chopsticks. Gado-gado, for the uninitiated, is a vegetable-noodle dish with a curry-and-coconut milk sauce.
So what does an Indonesian dish have to do with summer nights and culture in the capital? The delicacy is being offered by Foodtrip, served out of a food truck as part of the Jerusalem Season of Culture – a month-long festival of art, music and food in the city.
The answer can be traced to Dana Weiss, an Israeli television personality and documentary filmmaker, who suggested the dish and who, along with her three sons, was serving it as well. Each night, a different Israeli personality suggests the pairing of the dish and the neighborhood.
“My grandmother was born in Indonesia, which was then a Dutch colony,” Weiss told The Media Line. “When my mom wanted to do something special for us, she’d cook Indonesian food. It brings back memories of my grandmother.”
Today, Weiss lives in Tel Aviv, but she was born on Ethiopia Street, just across the street from where the food truck was parked.
“This is what Jerusalem should be—open, affordable and joyful,” Weiss said, looking around at everyone eating as the truck’s speakers blasted Israeli pop music. “Even though I left 16 years ago, I still love Jerusalem.”
The food truck will be parked in a different neighborhood for each of 24 nights in July and August. On several nights they will also park in east Jerusalem, the part of the city that Israel acquired in 1967 and which has a predominantly Arab population. There, the event will start later in the evening in respect to Muslims who fast until after sunset each night of the holy month of Ramadan.
“We were looking for new ways to explore the city of Jerusalem through the arts and other forms of creativity and we see culinary arts as part of culture,” Karen Brunwasser, the deputy director of the Jerusalem Season of Culture told The Media Line. “We decided to try to tell the story of Jerusalem with food.”
Where the truck will locate and what menu it will serve is kept secret until the day begins. Jerusalem foodies can call a hotline or sign up for e-mail updates.
The chef behind the project is Assaf Granit, who presides over Machneyudah, one of Jerusalem’s trendiest restaurants in Machaneh Yehuda, Jerusalem’s iconic outdoor market. The restaurant, where it can take weeks to get a reservation, is pricey and not kosher. Granit says the food truck is both kosher and hallal, meaning it complies with both Jewish and Islamic dietary laws.
It is also affordable at under $6 a portion – served in a typical Chinese food take-away container with chopsticks.
“Yesterday a large ultra-Orthodox family with lots of children came to the food truck and we had a long conversation,” Granit told The Media Line. “Where else would I get to meet people like that?”
The diners all seemed to be having a good time.
“This is just a fun summer activity,” Sara Dena Drelich, who came with her husband and young daughter. “It’s really important that different kinds of people come and meet each other.”
Sitting nearby, two urban planners nodded.
“It’s nice to see a lot of young people, students and families here,” Yael Kidron, 30, told The Media Line. “There is a lot of culture going on in Jerusalem and it’s getting more and more popular.”
The Foodtrip project also plans to put out a recipe book after the event ends.
“We are drawing a new map of Jerusalem through its food,” Chef Granit told The Media Line. “Jerusalem is complex and diverse with different religions. But everyone has food memories that show the city in its uniqueness and toughness.”