Friday, April 24, 2015

Diplomacy over the dinner table

In Turkey, it’s börek; in Israel, burekas, flaky layers of phyllo dough stuffed most commonly with cheese, spinach or minced meat. And the savory pastry isn’t the only thing the two cuisines have in common.

“You find a vast use of fresh vegetables, greens, spinach, olive oil, light fresh cheese, goat’s milk, and black pepper [in both countries],” says Tel Aviv-based chef Ruthie Rousso. Like Turkey, she noted, “Israel gets most of its fish from the Mediterranean, and enjoys the [same] climate and the produce which comes with it.”

Turks and Israelis have few opportunities to revel in their shared gastronomic heritage, however. Political tensions between the two erstwhile allies have been running high over the past six years, with reconciliation attempts thus far unsuccessful....

Enter an innovative program at Istanbul's Kadir Has University to use culinary similarities as a way for people from countries with strained diplomatic relations to start to find other areas of common ground. So far, the Food for Diplomacy project has has hosted chefs from Armenia, Greece, Israel, Syria and Ukraine. The story I wrote about it for Zester Daily was also featured by MSN on its Food Culture page.

Read my article, "A Place At Turkish Table For Armenians, Israelis & More," on Zester Daily.

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