Culinary Tours have gained in popularity around the world, and Israel’s food scene has become recognized worldwide for its quality and diverse ethnic offerings. Combine that with me being a massive foodie, a researcher of Jewish Food and its history, and a local resident (I currently live literally one minute’s walk from the shuk), and you know my tours will be fun, interesting and yummy!
But many people still wonder what a “shuk tour” is all about, and what benefit they gain beyond just visiting the market on their own.
People often say that food expresses culture. I believe that if so, you should be able to look at the food and use it as a mirror to see the culture reflected back. That’s the main angle I take in my tasting tours. Over the course of about two hours in the market, you will not only sample a number of delicious dishes, you will also learn what those dishes say about the culture and cultures of Jerusalem.
Knowing all of the stands in the market, and having tasted most things there, I also am able to select only foods that meet a high standard of quality (in my opinion), and focus on foods you are less likely to already recognize — there isn’t really a reason to pay a tour guide to bring you to get falafel or rugelach or candy. I take you to get foods you don’t know, or particularly good or interesting examples of things you do.
My tours typically start with a short introduction to the history and background of the market, and then we go around and eat lots of food. Typically you will share with your group two substantial tastings, and combine that with around seven smaller tastings. Some customization is possible based on dietary restrictions, though unfortunately, not all requirements can be accommodated. But please, ask me if a tour that meets your needs is possible. When I can make it work, I love to do so!
Interspersed with the tastings, I explain the history of the foods themselves and/or the area they originate in. I also talk about the market itself, its changes over time, and some of the stories connected with it and the people.
The tour is equally good for first-time visitors to Israel, and for those who have been to and seen practically everything. And on multiple occasions I have done the tour with locals, who visit the shuk on a regular basis, and they were still amazed at the new foods they discovered and facts that they learned.
I do not take groups larger than 15 people into the shuk, and prefer groups be no larger than 10-12 ideally. On the other end of the spectrum, I have guided couples or even individuals on multiple occasions. I never run the tour on Fridays — it is way too crowded in the shuk then for the tour to be worthwhile for you, or fair to the locals who work or shop in the market.
If you are interested in booking a tour, or have any questions about it, please be in touch!