Out of Africa is a movie I vividly recall from the days I used to frequent Cinemas, these days I’d prefer to see exotic places for myself.
Ethiopia, Sth Africa,Kenya, Zebras, Elephants or Lions all fascinate me. Like South America ,Africa is a continent I dream to travel in and meanwhile I’m being introduced to the different foods they serve. I arrived in Israel together with Operation Moses without a connection to a community organisation yet knew family members would welcome me to the country. The essence of adjusting to a new country is enriched if you have a family or community support and all the more a necessity to endure the hardships of living in Israel.
I’ve always been interested in Ethiopia, wether it be from living in Australia meeting an Ethiopian from Gondar whom had befriended a close friend whilst they studied at University together or meeting Ethiopians in a nightclub in Amsterdam. Arriving in Israel at the same time as the migrants from Russia and Ethiopia I was informed they were given preference as I had arrived from Australia I didn’t require any aid.
Well that left me alone looking for direction, stumbling around having climbed Ben Nevis, seen the Everest and the Pyramids.Travelling by train I also enjoyed the Valley of the Queens and Kings straight out of the Agatha Kristie Movie Death on the Nile… The Ethiopian Jews whom settled in Israel walked the deserts through Sudan and lost many friends whom couldn’t make it to Gondar or Addis Ababa to save their heritage or return to their homeland after years in exile.
Their restaurants thrive and their culture can be seen in the businesses they set up or in the centres that they live in. It was a surprise for me to discover my favourite Cafe in Tel Aviv recently thanks to a Shabbat Dinner I attended by chance.
I attended an evening dedicated to Ethiopian Jews in my home town and learnt that we have almost 30 Ethiopian families in Modiin and a total of 2% of the population of Israel are Ethiopian Jews.
Being introduced to their breads and snacks of roasted wheat and their baby humous which were roasted in spices and observing a traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony where the youngest person of the family honours the eldest members serving them coffee welcoming guests to their home .
Walking the streets of Jerusalem often I pass an Ethiopian restaurant in the Centre of the City but seeing as I don’t eat meat I’ve never eaten there. Still the Ethiopians staple bread is the Ingera much like the Yeminite Lachuch a large pita that one wrips up as you devour dips and fill your senses with the smell of cooked legumes or spinach or potato side dishes. In fact eating at Tanat reminded me of my days in India and the Cafe I frequent in Machane Yehuda to reminisce of travels to Agra and Varanasi. So now I’ve met Itzik a cool dude with a passion to keep his heritage alive in Israel I’ve become his number one fan.
His Cafe is in the heart of South Tel Aviv near Allenby Street or the Bus Station area, passing the illegal Erithrean makeshift restaurants one reaches Zchelnov Street and Tanat. Itzik surprised me as not only was he fluent in Hebrew but he conversed freely in English with Tourists walking by and the locals that pass by enroute to work or off to the local nightclub. The warmth he showed me was just what I needed on a late Friday afternoon before Shabbat came in and the recommendation by a bunch of guys I met over a Shabbat dinner to try out this Vegan Cafe in Tel Aviv proved worthy. Actually I really wanted a fresh Juice but was content with the cold water he served me to quence my thirst as I had all but spent my last pennies on a fun day walking Shenkin Street seeing the local Art work by innovative Israelis in all the colours of the rainbow whom market their wares to the public.
Still the Ingera with a dahl like lentil dish and potato/carrot dish filled my stomach just like Popeye as I devoured spinach and every last mouthfull ready to drive home to welcome Shabbat and be greeted by my young son.
Traditional pottery and cooking courses are offered in the Community Center of Ramla for tourists to learn about Ethiopian culture during a visit to Israel.
Itzik of Tanat Vegan Restaurant
Rehov Zchelnov 27, Tel Aviv
Yemenite Restaurant – Lachuch on Fridays
Moshava HaGermanit, Jerusalem