Mahane Yehuda Shuk: Heaven for the Hungry

**Featured image credit to afar.com

When staying in Jerusalem, choose Abraham Hostels. I have stayed there three times, and for good reason! It’s clean (one of the most important points for me), and it serves an extensive daily breakfast. The hostel is as social or as private as you want it to be – you’ll never be bored, or angry that people are waking you up in the night. While staying there, there was a musical open mic night that my father actually played at with a guitar from the common area! The staff is helpful and wonderful, and will help set you up on one of their tours; for example the West Bank tour I took, which takes you to three Palestinian cities in one day and was an incredible and necessary experience.

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Another fantastic thing about Abraham is that it’s a mere 3-minute walk from Mahane Yehuda shuk, one of my favorite places in the whole world.

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Why is it so amazing? You will shortly find out…

WARNING: You are about to see a lot of food porn. I cannot be blamed for your stomach grumbles. All places mentioned are in Jerusalem!

The featured photo displays the beautiful, heaping abundance you can see in the shuk (a loud, lively market with many and varied sellers of fresh, local fruits and vegetables, bread, sweets, dried goods, cell phone covers, you name it!). It captures the gorgeous colors of the tavlinim (spices), and it captures your senses too…

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View from the Tower of David

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It had been 4 years since I’d experienced the glory of the shuk… the wandering around and never being able to find your way back to that spot, the way you go in the same entrance but the shops have seemed to rearrange depending on the time of day, the heaps of fresh dates or bright pomegranates.

The sight of this sundial building  was an exciting welcome back to a place where I love to get lost.

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It’s just so smiley! This pic of the synagogue sundial courtesy of Wikipedia, as I can’t manage to upload my own.

I’d be tempted to buy a piece of every one of the many types of halva, a sweet treat made of sesame…

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Halva has the same sesame seed base as tahini and has many dense, flaky varieties. Here I can see pistachio, pecan, almond, date, chocolate-vanilla, cappuccino…

To linger a while at the candy stall pretending to be a child again…

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The characteristic look of “stallkeepers” in the shuk…

I love the ANONYMITY of the shuk. Crowds of people shopping for their week, not to mention all the Jewish grandmothers swarming on Friday morning before Shabbat. I was warned that if they ran over me with their wheeled carts, it was my fault.

At first, I was too shy to jump into the action, speak to the sellers, shout and bargain on their level. But as I got reimmersed in Hebrew, my tongue and my tastebuds jumped back into the amazing food adventure that is Israeli and Middle Eastern cuisine.

Just a few samples…

On our TALMA food tour, we visited…

this pita master, whose bakery I unfortunately can’t remember, though it was on the outskirts of the shuk. We had Georgian cheese bread, khachapuri, at corner restaurant Khachapuriahummus and falafel at Rachmo; and smooth sorbet at Mousseline to finish it all off- all conveniently located on the corner of HaEshkol Street.

Though I learned about cheap, delicious and kosher-meat Rachmo on the food tour, I was not blessed by its amazing kubbe until later. Kubbe (koo-beh) are a type of semolina dumpling with minced meat inside. The soup has many varieties, including a sour lemon one (Kubbe Hamusta) which is my favorite, but the one shown here is Kubbe Adom with beets.

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Kubbe Adom- Red Kubbe with beets in it.

I frequented the restaurant Azura, also a kosher meat restaurant with the works – and famous for its hummus. It has many different types of hummus and rice, traditional dishes like kubbe and some things like surprised me, like oxtail, goulash, and moussaka… naturally, as I am also a Greece-lover, I had to try that one. You can see they serve you with pickles and pita, and for good measure there’s a mountainous plate of hummus heaping with chickpeas, egg, and parsley.

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A hunk of deliciousness.

Because it was meat-only, there’s NO BECHAMEL in this!!! It was still unbelievable!

I had to capture what the bread stalls look like, but don’t have good enough pictures myself. Credit to afar.com:

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You can see bagels, large round pastries with sesame seeds, and the green one is pita or laffa (soft, “Iraqi pita”) with zaatar, a Middle Eastern spice. And when the fresh challah comes out on Fridays, you couldn’t keep me away. (Culture note for Czechs: challah is like vánočka except softer and chewier.)

BONUS: So this doesn’t have anything to do with Mahane Yehuda, but I wanted to mention our “cookout night” in the woods just outside Jerusalem.

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Tomato sauce for pasta, one meat, one not.

Everyone helped out chopping vegetables, seasoning… There was lots of food, which we all cooked ourselves outside on huge pans/poyke pots. It was a typically awesome Israeli experience!

Categories israel

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