One of my favorite things about food in Israel is that almost all of our produce is grown locally and is only available when it is in season. While I sometimes miss being able to make any dish at any time of year, like I could in the States, I know this is more environmentally friendly and that the produce is better too. Plus, you get really excited when a fruit or vegetable that you haven’t seen all year comes back into season!
With that in mind, I wanted to start keeping track of the various things as they come into season at the shuk (outdoor market) here in Jerusalem. I’m not going to be doing this in a truly formal fashion, but I do want to do my best to at least increase the available information about what is in season when in Israel. And while I did find this series of posts from the author of the Israeli Kitchen blog up at the Green Prophet website, I figured I’d take it a drop further. Just another part of my exploration of culinary Israel!
Every time I go to Machane Yehuda, the Jewish shuk in Jerusalem, I’ll be taking pictures of whatever I see that is new and looking good. Then I will post them on my Flickr for you to enjoy. I posted the first photo set this past week, and you can view it here if you like. If you want to see each new set, feel free to follow my Flickr account or my Pinterest board “Culinary Israel” where I will repost a few of the pictures from the Flickr. (You can also see a few pictures there from the previous week’s trip, that I never put up on Flickr.)
Anyway, based on the things coming into season now at the shuk, I know that Spring is on the verge of arriving here in Israel! Fresh almonds are out this week, and as any Israeli child can tell you, the almond is the first tree to bloom each winter here, so the almonds signal the arrival of the end of winter. Also, as Passover approaches, we get fresh garlic with its long stalks (as opposed to the dried garlic that you get all year round). And Passover is also called “The Spring Holiday,” so that’s another sign!
By the way, as an added (albeit non-culinary) indication that Spring is arriving, there are tons of wild flowers in bloom these days. Many people have been heading down south to see the northern reaches of the Negev desert in bloom with gorgeous red crown anemones (kalanit in Hebrew). Already a month ago, while up north, I got to see a number of rakafot/cyclamens (the national flower of Israel) coming out. A friend was lucky enough to see the Gilboa Iris on a hike on Friday. And on the same day, I took a lovely trip to the incredible Givat HaTurmusim, a hill in the Elah Valley south of Beit Shemesh, known to get covered at this time of year in beautiful Blue Lupins/turmusim.
Spring is my favorite season in Israel. Everything is green and colorful, and the weather is simply perfect. The rains are ending and though warm, it isn’t yet unbearably hot or humid. So if you want me to show you around this Spring, just let me know!