The Enduring eggplant-Israel Love Affair

In this episode of the Tel Aviv Table Podcast, we dive into the many-faceted Israeli passion for the aubergine – the hearty veggie that occupies a cardinal place in the region's cuisine.

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The venerable Solanum melongena.
The venerable Solanum melongena.Credit: Dreamstime

There are foods in this country that come and go, and there are certain foods that have remained staples from the nation’s first day. Eggplant (also known as aubergine) is one of those foods. It’s a meaty and hearty crop, it’s indigenous to the region, and it has reflected Israeli society at every point in its history.

Today we are diving into the Israeli passion for the eggplant:

We start with Janna Gur, who talks about eggplant at each important juncture of Israeli history – from immigration to state building, to the birth of new Israeli cuisine.

Then I get in the kitchen with chef and TV personality Eyal Shani, who explains what you can learn about Israeli people when you blast an eggplant in a hot oven.

Next we speak to Yoav Benish, whose father Arnold founded a legendary restaurant devoted to the eggplant – complete with an "eggplantmobile" car – in Tel Aviv.

Chef Erez Komorovsky gives some tips on using eggplant creatively at home.

Finally, agricultural researcher Maayan Kitron, from the Arava Institute, talks about the new eggplant varieties that could become the staple of tomorrow’s Israeli cuisine.

Food news:

If you have visitors coming this summer, there’s a great new free, online resource that brings together gorgeous photos with comprehensive reviews of cafes, restaurants, bars and street foods:

Two new Asian restaurants: An Israeli-Thai couple opened Sakon Nakon in Rishon Letzion, and in Jerusalem, Station 9 restaurant is serving up kosher Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese food in the city’s old train station complex.

Israeli chocolatier Ika Cohen has won a prize at the International Chocolate Awards in Florence with her za'atar-flavored ganache:

Editor and Producer: Amy Racs
Producer: Liya Spiegel
Music Editor: Tomer Gershenman
Field Technician: Tammy Goldenberg
Studio Technician: Sagi Gorali Ventura

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – Aubergine
Lukach – Eyal Shani
Sagol 59 – Mishak Machoor
MewithoutYou – Aubergine
Prince – Purple Rain

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