America-born and Israel-based, Jamie Geller is a best-selling cookbook author and kosher chef extraordinaire …but she spends as little time in the kitchen as possible. Not because she doesn’t love food, but because she has other things to do. A lot of other things. Like showing us around the Shuk, Jerusalem’s most popular market, to taste test and compare two of Israel’s most cherished sweets: rugelach and kanafeh.
In this episode of The Tastemakers, Jamie pits these two delectable favourites against one another. Watch the video to see which one emerges victorious:
AMEX ESSENTIALS: Could you introduce yourself, for those who don’t know you?
Hi, I’m Jamie Geller. I’m mom to 6 (3 boys, 3 girls – thank G-d!), former TV producer turned 6-time cookbook author, turned digital media network CEO who is obsessed with sharing Jewish comfort food from around the world, with the world.
What can visitors to your website, jamiegeller.com, expect to find?
10,000 recipes, videos, menus and articles featuring the widest range of Jewish foods, from brisket to bourekas, cholent to challah, shawarma to shakshuka – and everything in between.
What’s your cooking mantra?
Quality ingredients, quickest prep – the easier the better.
You’re taking us to Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market, or ‘The Shuk’. How would you describe the market? And why do you, personally, love this market so much?
Jerusalem is home to the largest marketplace in the Middle East: Machane Yehuda Market or the Shuk (meaning ‘market’). It’s also one of the most popular sites for tourists and locals. The Shuk is at once a farmer’s market, food court, art gallery, street festival, spice bazaar and wine-tasting extravaganza, and all the flavours of the Middle East can be found in this colourful place. From the iconic falafel and shawarma to a more modern wasabi ice cream and craft beers, all manner of foods can be tasted and enjoyed here, as the Shuk weaves together the ancient and modern tapestry of Israel.
Can we expect more of these travel/taste-off episodes in the future?
This is the premiere episode of our new Israeli food and travel series. So the short answer is …YES!
At the heart of Israeli cuisine are simple ingredients with big flavours, artfully prepared. Sunny flavours that explode in your mouth – and which come from a country that has seen more than its share of less-than-sunny days.
What are some other Israeli dishes that you adore and would recommend to readers discovering Israeli cuisine?
Eating a meal in Israel is not just eating a meal. Every meal is a reflection of the world. Each bite is composed of cultures and history, land and people. Thousands of years of battles, and different religions all pepper each mouthful.
At the heart of the cuisine are simple ingredients with big flavours, artfully prepared. Sunny flavours that explode in your mouth – and which come from a country that has seen more than its share of less-than-sunny days.
The food and the menus in restaurants have a certain feel, almost like a beat or a rhythm. It is sophisticated, modern and classic all at the same time. Laid-back and cool.
Of course, we’re all booking our tickets now to visit the Shuk! But what if we want to make rugelach or kanafeh at home – do you have any recipes?
Of course! I would never leave you hanging. I have a beautiful sweet-and-savoury collection of rugelach for you to choose from! Plus classic kanafeh. One of the most wonderful benefits of cooking (and this Tastemaker series!) is that we all have the opportunity to both be introduced to and taste the most foreign cuisines from the comforts of our home kitchens.