Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market
Jerusalem’s 800,000 inhabitants are a dizzying blend of cultures, all influential in the shaping of this incredible and contentious space. The riches of this tiny and diverse country converge at Mahane Yehuda. Established by Arab traders during the Ottoman Empire in the late 1800s, the shuk is a place where all walks of life eat, shop and sell goods—whether Jewish, Muslim or Christian. Spanning just a few city blocks, you’ll find fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, teas, bread, sweets, nuts, homemade tahina, restaurants and bars.
Among the vendors, I found the best spice shop on the planet. Rosemary was opened in 1953 by an Iranian family, and it stocks an amazing selection of Persian, Moroccan, Yemeni and Egyptian spices—including sumac, an essential Israeli spice that’s infused into hundreds of traditional dishes.
Another must stop at this bustling market is Morris Bitton’s Moroccan restaurant. He’s known for taking offal and grilling these cheaper cuts of meat to perfection over hardwood. Try the medley of spinal cord, chilies, coriander and ras al hanout (a common North African spice blend), or the skewered turkey testicles and cow udders.
There’s also an insane mix of Jewish food from different regions to sample, like salted sprats, fish egg spread, smoked herring and Iberian mullet roe botarga. Really, there’s something for everyone here. So just go. Get lost for a couple hours, take in all of the sights and smells, and eat your way around this food lovers’ paradise.
Photographs courtesy of Travel Channel.