5 Goodies You Must Try at the Jerusalem Market

5 Goodies You Must Try at the Jerusalem Market

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A lot of my birthright experience was filled with history, history, and more history.  I’m not in any way saying that I’m no fan of learning, but in all honesty, I would rather spend some of this precious time in Israel learning about foods stuffing my face with goodies.  I mean, there is only so much by brain can retain before it explodes… and gets hungry!

We had the opportunity to get lost in the super busy Jerusalem Market, Mahane Yehuda (יהודה‎ מחנה  שוק), commonly referred to as “The Shuk”.  This marketplace, originally all open-aired, now partially covered, is popular with both tourists and locals alike.  The market is home to over 250 venders, including fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods (which I would have loved to got my hands on), fish, meats, and cheeses, nuts, seeds, and spices, wines and liquors (oh, yummy!), and even clothing.  And shoes.  And housewares.  And Judaica.  Just about everything.  I could have stayed there for hours.

But we were only given about 45 minutes.  Complete bummer!

Our bus was divided into groups of three or four, each responsible for different items to buy for our family picnic in the park.  Since my group was given bread and grains, we had a fair share of time to explore.  And eat- the best part of any market.

As we walked around, we were surrounded by falafel and schawarma stands, juice bars, cafes, and restaurants.  Having a few felafel and schawarma pitas already on our travels, I really wanted to get my hands on:

1) chocolate rugelach

Chocolately, fudgy “cookies”.  The absolute best.  I instantly went into into a sugar coma the moment I bit into this sweet, sweet treat.  Rugelach are like super duper rich cookies, with a flaky outside, and moist semi-sweet inside.  The Shuk is known for it’s superb rugelach, as they are different from any other rugelach I’ve ever had, practically oozing with it’s chocolately filling.  I can honestly say the rugelach in America just doesn’t cut it anymore.

2) fresh jerusalem breads and pitas

These pita’s are the most awesome thing to stuff with cold cuts, olives, and cheese, or whatever else your heart desires.  Why not put some hummus and felafel inside?  My absolute favorite!

3) olives

Olives in the market come in all different colors, sizes, shapes, and flavors.  Try one or try them all, they will make you wanting more.  I wish I could have packed another suitcase to bring loads upon loads of these home to share with family.

4) halva

If you’ve never tasted this sweet sesame seed treat before, you’re in for a big surprise.  Eli Mamman, from The Halva Kingdom, knows all of the family secrets.  Try one of the 100 different flavors and types- or 2, or 3, or 10.  These giant wheels are topped with pistachio nuts, meats, chocolate chips, coffee beans, and more.

5) spices and beans

Lentils.  Peas.  Beans.  Legumes.  Cinnamon sticks.  Sumac.  Anise seeds.  Sesame seeds.  Just Go For It.  Buy a few different kinds, and throw them into your next meal.  You’ll wish you bought more.  Just saying…

After wandering throughout the market, with my mouth more than salivating, we headed off to a nearby park and got right to it- eating that is.

And sliding down the Monster Slide.  Look at that thing! SO UNEXPECTED!

Tip: If you want to explore the market, try to stay away on Thursdays and Fridays, as the marketplace is filled with shoppers stocking up for Shabbat.  The Shuk is closed from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning for Shabbat.

Tours: If you want to make sure you don’t miss any goodies, you can opt to take a self-guided tour, called “Shuk Bites”.  For 99 shekels (approx $26 US), you get a ticket that includes both a map with a pre-planned route through the market and a punch card which allows you little tastes of a variety of foods and drinks.  Other guided tours include a bakery tour, a wine and cheese tour, chef-guided tasting tour, and a shuk cooking workshop.  I really wish we had enough time to do this.

Considering the tensions between different ethnic, religious, and social groups in Israel, it is fascinating that the Shuk is one of the few places of sanity in the whole city.  It’s true: food always brings people together.

 And a few more treats from the Shuk:

Has anybody tried any goodies from the Shuk?  
Or had the opportunity to to slide down the Monster slide?!?!

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