Magazine article Moment

The State of the Shuk: A Taste of the Old World

Magazine article Moment

The State of the Shuk: A Taste of the Old World

Article excerpt

Open-air markets, known as shuks in Hebrew or souk in Arabic, flourish all over the Middle East. In Israel, you can find them in most cities, large and small. All feature colorful stands filled with everything from eggplants, figs, herbs and potato kugel to gummy worms and chocolate bars. Enter and you are swept into the Old World, surrounded by stall owners hawking their fare, hole-in-the-wall hummus and falafel joints, mountains of fresh spices and piles of pomegranates and oranges, which can be freshly squeezed at your request.

When in Jerusalem, make a point of visiting Machane Yehuda market. "The Shuk" opened at the end of the 19th century during the Ottoman rule, when Arab farmers brought their produce to sell to the Jews living in a few new neighborhoods outside the Old City. For decades, through the British Mandate and the early years of the independent State of Israel, it remained almost unchanged. In recent years, the shuk has been undergoing a major renovation. You can now find exclusive restaurants and espresso bars, making it one of the hippest sections of the city for fine dining and nightlife.

Try the spicy pickles, smoked fish and Jerusalem-style kugel at the shuk's first deli, Ma'adanei Tzidkiyahu. Then sample some of the 100 types of halva at the Halva Kingdom or one of 1,500 European cheeses at Basher Fromagerie. Eat the cheese and egg Georgian khachapuri pastry at Khachapuria, dine on artichoke and ricotta ravioli with lemon and thyme sauce in the excellent kosher Italian Topolino, and enjoy a chef's Middle Eastern-inspired creation of roasted figs and beef tartar over bulgur at Machneyuda. …

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