Markets in Israel
The heart and soul of every Cooking Vacation
Being as it is a Mediterranean country, Israel has a long tradition of marketplace shopping and culture that goes as far back as biblical times. The market is the fascinating meeting place of people of different ethnic groups, religions and social sectors and the incredible mix of colors, scents and tastes make it a favorite destination for culinary travelers. In Israel in particular, the market presents a special mix of smells of spices and foods from all the various cuisines of all the different people living in Israel. Here, at least, there is a feeling of good merchant brotherhood and fraternity. Since the weather is fine here most of the year, which makes Israel a perfect location for a cooking vacation, most markets in Israel are open markets and most of them present a lovely combination of food and textile.
The market of the old city of Akko
Exotic tastes combine with ancient history in this magical culinary destination.
One of the markets we will visit during our one-week cooking vacation is one of the oldest markets in Israel – the market in Akko, also known as the White Market due to the white calcite stone it is made of. The main street of the market stretches all along the Old City and comes out to the port of Akko, which was used at the time of the crusaders as a highly strategic passage point for merchandise. Today this wonderfully colorful market has mainly fresh fish, spices and sweets and you can find excellent Hummus and ful (cooked fava beans) here that is arguably one of the best in the country.
The Carmel Market in Tel Aviv
The vibrant colorful marketplace near the beach
Another market we will visit during our one-week cooking vacation is the bustling market of Tel Aviv – the Carmel Market. Formed in 1921 by a group of Russian nobility landowners, it is today the biggest fresh food market in the city. This lively market is a real cultural center, particularly vibrant and one of the most fascinating destinations for food lovers. The merchants are very loud but very friendly and the merchandise is of the very best, unmatched in price and quality. Try and spot the real Tel Avivians – they are the ones dragging around those square market trolleys, trying desperately to maneuver through the crowd.
Other unique markets for the culinary traveler in Israel
There are numerous other wonderful markets in Israel that may be included in other cooking vacations.
One is the huge Mahne Yehuda
market in Jerusalem, the largest food and clothing market in the country, which was formed back in the 19th
century by Arab farmers from the neighboring villages. Here
you will find a rare variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, unique pastries and amazing local spices. The market street is doted with authentic little cafes, where the owners have been for generations, serving excellent quality coffee and unforgettable baked goods.
Another very unique market is the Levinsky market in Tel Aviv, which was formed by immigrants from Salonika, Turkey and Persia. Since culinary culture in these countries is extremely developed, the new immigrants would not leave behind the amazing variety of unique spices, smoked fish, cheeses and pastries that were characteristic of their community. The Levinsky market is a food lover's paradise, specializing in pickled and smoked delicacies and preserving some of the old methods of food preparation. If you step into one of the many bakeries you might see almonds being peeled by hand one by one to make Marzipan or spices being hand-grinded, their fresh scent floats high above the market.