A New York restaurant, Jack’s Wife Freda, has gone into Israeli cuisine and it is proving to be popular among its customers.
The restaurant is alive with the sounds of laughter and lively conversation. Crowded around the next table is a group of young Asians, surveying with amazement the dishes that arrive.
An Israeli will identify a fragrant green shakshuka and a finely chopped Israeli salad, but Komarovsky understands at once that the source of the green is neither spinach nor Swiss chard, “like in Israel,” but a type of green tomato.
What’s interesting here are the dishes of Jewish origin, not part of the bistro canon. Alongside the classic side dish of hand-cut fries, couscous is offered. Onion soup is replaced by matzo ball soup; according to the owner, Maya, this is a first-rank New York classic. “Over and above the fact that it is symbolic of Jewish cooking, everyone in New York loves matzo ball soup,” she says. “And that includes the Chinese and the French.”
Another glance at the menu makes you wonder whether it would be granted Israeli citizenship. The labaneh, challah, eggplant and matzo balls all evoke an Israeli atmosphere. However, the shakshuka and cauliflower are prepared differently to Tel Aviv eateries. In Israel itself, it’s still not clear what exactly constitutes Israeli cuisine. But in New York, a new generation of restaurateurs is trying to provide a few answers from afar.