Anthony Bourdain in Israel: 5 Spots Tony Ate in Jerusalem
Referred to as “easily the most contentious piece of real estate in the world”, Anthony Bourdain discovers a beautiful and sophisticated place, packed with history and, of course, mouth-watering food. Where in the world could this be? Israel – of course, and unsurprisingly.
Anthony Bourdain visited Israel to film season 2 (episode 1) of Parts Unknown; it was his only on-screen visit to the region, and he spent his time only in the city of Jerusalem. At the time, there was commentary that his visit was long overdue; indeed it was surprising that he waited until this point in his career to visit, but he more than makes up for it, sampling food on both sides of the line – both culturally and politically.
If you’re planning a trip to Israel and are a fan of the man himself, you might want to eat at some of the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Israel. Unfortunately, most of the places Tony ate are private, but there are a few options you can seek out to follow in his footsteps as you explore this destination.
Want to watch the episode where Anthony Bourdain visits Israel?
The Parts Unknown episode is available on Amazon and Apple TV.
Unnamed Falafel Stand (Damascus Gate)
Bourdain’s first stop on such sojourns is usually street food, and in the city of Jerusalem, street food doesn’t come any more iconic than falafel. Accompanied by chef Yotam Ottolenghi, Anthony finds that falafel here is served freshly fried and is considered an integral part of the culture, and the ‘best’ falafel is a subject that is often fiercely debated.
Private Home Meal (Ma’ale Levona/the West Bank)
Taking a trip to the West Bank, Tony is next a guest at the house of Amichai Luria, a local cook and winemaker. Here amongst the vineyards and political discourse, he is served a specialty of Amichai’s, salmon marinated in preserved pomegranate juice
Majda (Ein Rafa)
Traveling next to the Judean hills, 20 minutes outside of Jerusalem, Bourdain meets with restaurant owners Michal Baranes and Yaakov Barhum, at their establishment Majda.
Treating Anthony to a delicious vegetarian selection, the hosts serve up fried eggs with pepper and cherry tomatoes, roasted tomatoes with okra, onion, and mint (charred extensively for a smoky flavor), grilled zucchini with yogurt sauce, and more zucchini, this time diced with mint and fresh apricots. This, Bourdain comments, is the sort of dish that might almost convince him to eat at vegetarian restaurants more often!
Private Home Meal (Gaza Strip)
Tony next travels to the charged region of the Gaza Strip, to meet with Palestinian author Laila El-Haddad. To accompany their discussions, he is served Maqluba, a typical Palestinian dish consisting of layers of fried eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, caramelized onions, and chicken, sauteed then simmered in a broth with nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, and rice.
Private Home Meal (Outside Gaza City)
Accompanied by Laila once again, Bourdain’s final stop has him meeting with local elders on the outskirts of the city. Whilst local matters are discussed and wisdom imparted, a special dish is prepared.
Fatit ‘Ajir (or Salatit) is a Bedouin dish unique to towns in the southern Gaza Strip. Underripe baby watermelon is first wrapped in tin foil and roasted in campfire coals until tender. The pulp is then removed, mixed with eggplant, squash, tomatoes, and chillis to make salad, and is served with bread, itself a homemade dough from barley and olive oil which has again been baked in the fire coals.
As the fire burns and the sun sets, Anthony Bourdain reflects on the food of Jerusalem and its surrounding area: “All the food I’ve had so far in Gaza has been very different than anything else I’ve had in the Arab world—a different flavor spectrum entirely.”
Jerusalem Food Tours to Try
As many of the places that Anthony Bourdain ate in Israel are not open to the public (since they were private homes), you might want to consider another option to sample more food from this area. Here are some good food tour options to choose from:
Have any questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Israel? Let me know in the comments below.