Hungry? No? Don’t worry, you will be in just a minute – we certainly are after collating the brilliant answers our STG Recommended Vendors sent in to the question “what’s your favorite Jewish / Israeli / Yiddishe food?”
It’s an impossible question, with far too many answers, and the mouth-watering selection below is certainly food for thought (see what we did there? Sorry!)
One thing that is absolutely striking is that almost everybody mentioned the heart and significance that goes into Jewish cooking, the echoes of times gone by in each meal, and each family’s very slight variant on that recipe, the food of our culture keeping us together when we are a diaspora, the eclectic melting pot of flavours and backgrounds, of places we’ve visited and called home – and the love passed down in families, l’dor va’dor– from generation to generation.
Jewish food is more than just food – it’s an expression of the unique, Jewish soul. It’s bickering around the table, it’s breaking wonderful news over a matzo ball soup, it’s second helpings of savta / grandma’s signature dessert, it’s that special flavour that only our family gets just right. Jewish food represents love and home – and this comes through in every word below.
Tania from Dany’s Traiteur Kosher Catering:
“As a Kosher caterer in the South of France, I have an incredible amount of contenders of typical Jewish food to be my favorite: falafel, shawarma, fantastic cous cous, amazing tajine or any” Bkaila” for my Tunisian clients.
But what I love more than anything is when we organise catering for weddings and the bride’s grandmother asks me timidly if she could bring a few oriental pastries that she will make by herself because her granddaughter loves them so much, and because over years and years, from generation to generation in Morocco or anywhere else, they always have these pastries for the dessert in weddings.
And despite all the wonderful desserts our chef pastry makes, all the guests are fighting to have one of these cigars filled with almonds made by Aunt Rachel…”
Chloe from Fulham Palace:
“My passion for food my mother tells me started the day I was born!! This explains a lot! Having explored and cooked foods from all regions, my absolute favorite is Israeli food. The history and knowledge passed down through generations is so powerful and I love the fact that all recipes stem from the seven Israelites – being olives, figs, dates, pomegranates, wheat, barley and grapes – and how Israeli food has evolved over the centuries.
I love it when a client gives me a family recipe that we then serve at a wedding – it somehow makes the food even more special.
I love nothing more than the simplest plate of labneh with figs & honey – makes my mouth water to even type it! I also love smokey baba ganoush with warm pitta – rich, but healthy and so satisfying. If pushed, I of course would finish off with a rich coffee and the naughtiest of phyllo pastries filled with sticky dates and a hint of rose water. My idea of heaven!”
Dyana from optimum weddings:
“My favorite dish is LOKSHEN PUDDING!! Yum. my mother in law always used to make it all the time and sadly, since we lost her, I haven’t eaten it. Thinking about this has made me look up her recipe and I am going to make it this coming weekend!”
Zoe from The Golden Letter:
“Mama’s Friday night dinner is always going to win. Chopped liver on my challah, chicken soup with locshen and kneidlach, and a roast chicken with all the trimmings. (Don’t tell my mum but I prefer my nanna’s dessert. Locshen pudding all the way!”
“Challah and homemade bread in general – no question.
I enjoy all the foods, but homemade Challah is spiritually connected for me. My culture, and the chemistry of the simplest ingredients from nature, from creation, that forms one delicious food.
Watching the dough form, handling the dough, is calming in so many ways. My new oven has a bread proofing setting. When I sneak a peek, and see how much the bread has risen, I am in awe!
My grandmother and mother taught me with joy, patience and most importantly the passing down the connection to Judaism in the kitchen. The amazing smells back then to today is heartfelt with memory and l’dor vador. From generation to generation.
Expanding on the Challah bread connected with life, I am sharing the words of my 12-year-old student studying and preparing to become a Bat Mitzvah per tradition. She just finished her Torah portion studies and wrote her speech. Her portion teaches the custom of challah. She compares the preparation of the challah bread dough to life.”
Ben from Ben Kelmer Photography:
“It’s very easy for me. Every Friday, I buy two challah bread loaves. We finish one at Friday dinner, and the second on Shabbat.”
Jennifer from Jennifer’s Paper:
“There is nothing more delicious than potato latkes with a shmear of sour cream on top, served alongside a simple Israeli salad of cucumbers and tomatoes, parsley and olive oil! Speaking of I think I should make some tomorrow for dinner!”
Lior Yael from Made in Israel Events:
“I have to say that my favorite dish is brisket! Love the smell, taste and texture of that meat.
My mum makes it often, and growing up in Israel I was sure everyone knew what brisket was.
Well, apparently no one does in Israel, unless they are Anglo. I spent years trying to explain to my friends what it is, and later on to my Israeli husband. So, finally, he got it, and now he loves it too, and begs my mum to make it. There is one difficulty, though, he says brisket in an Israeli accent so takes her a while to understand what he means.”
Dimitria from Dimitria Jordan Stationery:
“My favorite Jewish food has to be the pastrami sandwich. I visited Katz’s Delicatessen in New York the last time I was there, and it was so good. I’ll definitely be visiting again on my next trip!”
Debbie from Qube Events & Productions:
“It’s got to be shakshuka. I don’t know why, as it doesn’t look the most appetising dish, but tastes amazing. I remember the last time I had one, I was sitting on Tel Aviv beach at one of those cafes on the beach front. It was delicious.”
Michal from Michal K Events Israel:
“So I am torn between my love for old-school herring, and a shot of whiskey or Jerusalem (Yershalmi) kugel, which is caramelised pepper noodle kugel cooked in the oven for 24 hours, and it is a sweet and savoury experience.”
Dom from York Place Studios:
“Smoked salmon bagel is my absolute favorite. I could eat those by the dozen if I was given a chance!”
Liz from Blue Sky Flowers:
“Not very exciting, but chopped liver and bagel!!”
Candice from Paper Anniversary:
“My favorite food has to be a sticky, chocolatey rugelach. The best one I have ever had was from the market in Jerusalem, OMG, heaven in bite!”
Richard from Sensation Band:
“Our office is in the heart of Golders Green, and the ultimate go-to food of all for our team (made up of both Jewish & non-Jewish) has to be… chocolate rugelach. Does that even count?
The Friday morning debate still rambles on which bakery makes the best rugelach.”
Liesl from Lamare London:
“As a self-confessed sweet tooth, I have to give a dessert as my answer! And the first dessert that springs to mind is babka: both the traditional cinnamon-filled babka, as well as the more decadent and modern chocolate-filled babka. I was first introduced to this twisted dough delicacy when visiting a friend in America. Not only is it indulgent and delicious, but I also think it’s really attractive with it’s countless layers of dough and filling. And it goes so well with tea or coffee!”
Sara from optimum weddings:
“My favorite Jewish food would have to be matzo ball soup. My two best girl friends growing up were Jewish, and I remember going over to their houses for dinner and having the best, mom-made, matzo ball soup! It was especially my favorite in the cold, winter months. Now I’m set on figuring out how to make it myself. If anyone has any tips, let me know!”
Valentina and Stefania from Italian Wedding Company:
“We are foodies, and when it comes to Jewish food, we have to mention the amazing restaurants in the Jewish Ghetto in Rome!
We particularly recommend Baghetto, Nonna Betta and Gigietto under Portico d’Ottavia. All must-visits for food lovers.
We adore Italian Roman Jewish specialties, and above all, we love Torta alla Ricotta con le Visciole (ricotta and wild cherry cake). You can find it in the restaurants mentioned above but the best one is at Pasticceria Boccione Limentani, again under Portico d’Ottavia. It is a simple, traditional bakery that many local Romans call Il Forno del Ghetto (Bakery of the Ghetto). They sell what we believe are the best cakes, pies and biscuits in Rome, but Torta Ricotta e Visciole is just the best you can get.”
What’s your favorite Jewish food? Have we missed out your go-to comfort snack? Let us know in the comments below…