Beyond hummus: Palestinians cook up new food trends

1 week ago 31

JERUSALEM (AFP) - From the ancient alleys of Jerusalem's Old City to kitchens around the world, Palestinians are stirring new trends in cooking while abiding by traditions.

The trend has whipped up a growing appetite for specialised books and food tours.

"It's changing for the better, I think. Many Palestinians are keen on promoting their foods," said Mr Nassar Odeh, as oven aromas wafted over a Jerusalem street.

The Palestinian entrepreneur has spent the past few months watching gourmands drift in and out of his new eatery, Taboon, named after the traditional clay oven.

Customers are tucking into dishes such as Armenian lahmajoon, a thin pizza with ground meat and spices which Mr Odeh remembers being sold to hungry crowds in the Old City decades earlier.

"Armenian dishes are part of the Palestinian culture," said Mr Odeh, whose bar also serves beer and wines from the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

"This is extremely important because this emphasises the Palestinian presence and the entrepreneurship," he said. "We need to be proud of our products."

Opened last year in what was once the family's souvenir store, Taboon is part of a string of new Palestinian bars, cafes and restaurants.

Beyond those within the Old City walls, they have sprung up in other areas of annexed east Jerusalem such as the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, or further afield in Ramallah in the West Bank.

They range from a fine dining experience to fusion menus, blending Palestinian ingredients with European dishes, according to Mr Izzeldin Bukhari, who runs Jerusalem food tours and cooking classes.

"It's a great start; we're really in the beginning," said Bukhari, who plans to offer consulting services to business owners wanting to revitalise their restaurants.

"Everyone was doing kind of the same thing, but lately I see people stepping up and doing a new concept, new ideas," he said.

Showcasing the breadth of Palestinian dishes and produce remains central for Ms Dalia Dabdoub, who manages Taboon and owns bars in the West Bank cities of Bethlehem and Jericho.

"We want to change the industry, in doing more food that peo...

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