Here you are in Israel, the meeting place of Jewish (and other) cultures that have converged from around the world, and you're looking to expand your culinary horizons. Look no further than the weekly Dizengoff Center food fair, which dishes up a chance for adults and kids to sample a range of Middle Eastern and other far-flung cuisines.
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Every week a set selection of caterers and restaurants offer their fare, each at their own stall. You can settle down and eat a meal on the spot, or choose individual items – just a serving of rice, for instance, an eggroll, meatball, chicken leg, danish. Or you can buy food to take home and eat at your leisure.
The fair offers a wide selection of cuisines: Moroccan, Persian, Tunisian, Druze, Israeli, Iraqi, Asian, and the list goes on. There are stalls specializing in baklava, chocolates, fresh fruit and salad veg, and much more. There are a lot of regional riffs on cholent and other classic Shabbat dishes, such as the Iraqi chicken-and-rice stew tibbit. (One thing this writer hasn't observed in years of happily sparing herself from cooking is a classic hamburger vendor, but I have seen hot dogs and the center has outlets of the big burger chains.) Also, note that opinions on the food vary as widely as the range of goodies.
The vendors are not doing their cooking there, mind you, though steamed dim sum vendors and Druze pita makers are exceptions. Most of the vendors bring freshly pre-prepared foods and keep them warm on hot plates.
The stalls bear a description of their cuisine (some only in Hebrew) but the food speaks for itself, and you can ask for a taste before you commit. Meals to eat on the spot, served in disposable dishes, range from about NIS 30 to NIS 60.
The fair takes place every Thursday from 12 to 8 P.M., and Fridays from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. and is closed on Jewish holidays. If, for instance, Friday morning is a "holiday eve" – the holiday officially starts when the sun goes down on Friday – then the fair will be open for business as usual.
The fair is in the B building of Dizengoff Center. It starts inside the street entrances, and continues with bakery stalls and other goodies lined along the corridors. The biggest part of the fair is downstairs. If you get lost in the maze of the mall, just follow your nose.
Dizengoff Center information: 03-621-2400
Dizengoff Center, 50 Dizengoff Street, corner of Dizengoff and King George streets, Tel Aviv.
Next week: The Dizengoff Center fashion fair