Large, cheap and Mizrahi ("Oriental") Israeli cuisine: Israeli cuisine

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Gastronomes and cultural critics have been struggling with the definition of Israeli cuisine for quite some time now. In this chapter, based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Israel since the late 1990s, I depart from the conventional definition of the Israeli cuisine as an amalgam of diasporic cuisines brought about by repeated waves of immigrant Jews, enhanced by the local produce and mixed with the local Palestinian cuisine, and argue instead that Israelis like their portions large and cheap, pay little attention to quality and opt for Mizrahi (Oriental) food. This does not mean that Israelis eat only large portions of mediocre, Middle Eastern food, or that they avoid European and/or Ashkenazi food altogether. Rather, I argue that for most Israelis this would be the normal, taken for granted tendency, firmly embedded in historical narratives, ethnic relations and political dispositions. I begin the chapter with the ethnographic data concerning the large portions Israelis opt for and contextualize it in the national obsession for “not being suckers,”. I continue with the Israeli overwhelming preference for Mizrahi food and discuss the nature of this Mizrahiyut as reflected in the culinary sphere. I conclude by returning to the schnitzel in a pita as an epitome of these culinary preferences and as an expression of Israeli contemporary identity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook on Contemporary Israel
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781000591149
ISBN (Print)9780429281013
StatePublished - 29 Jul 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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