Tasting Tel Aviv's Culture With The Curious Foodi

The Curious Foodi motto | curiousfoodi/Instagram
The Curious Foodi motto | curiousfoodi/Instagram
Tel Aviv is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, made most apparent through its variety of culinary scenes, whose origins stretch from all over the globe. One of the most meaningful ways to expose yourself to new and unfamiliar cultures is by experiencing its tastes and flavors. The Curious Foodi offers just that: a magical exploration of the eclectic and delicious culinary markets in Tel Aviv and further afield.

Exploring Tel Aviv’s Marketplace

For those who let their taste buds guide them when traveling, The Curious Foodi has devised an interesting way to discover the character of Tel Aviv, by mapping out the foodscape. With Tel Aviv’s bustling markets, it’s no surprise that Madame Curious Foodi, Tahlia Berger, believes that the best way to get acquainted with the country and the food is in the Middle Eastern marketplace. On the surface it may seem like a loud, busy array of colors, sounds, and smells, but with the guidance of the tour, the shuk, Tel Aviv’s iconic Carmel Market, becomes a testimony to the city’s history, putting Israeli culture into context and creating a playground for getting to know the locals.

Courtesy of Tahlia Berger/Asaf Avraham

Connecting with Culture by eating

We sat down with The Curious Foodi to get a taster of how she recommends to connect with the Tel Aviv culinary scene and which spots in the carmel market she recommends. Tahlia Berger grew up in Sydney, Australia, in a Hungarian and Turkish family, and she was profoundly inspired by the role that food plays in connecting people and transcending borders. In a country largely populated by immigrants, Berger’s grandparents from Hungary had one of the most established eateries in Sydney, dedicated to recreating authentic Hungarian cuisine. The blissful reaction that diners had while tasting these home-cooked, traditional dishes, surrounded by family members and excited by the concept of ‘eating out,’ struck Tahlia, who has come to believe in eating her way through different cultures. When she first arrived in Israel, Tahlia did just that, and thus was The Curious Foodi born.

The stories of the Spice Market Courtesy of Tahlia Berger/Asaf Avraham

Discover Tel Aviv’s history in the heart of the market

By exploring the various neighborhoods and ethnic enclaves all over Tel Aviv, you can foster personal connections with the people of the market. At the Carmel market you’ll meet a range of sellers from all over the world; from the Iraqi brothers who sell spices as their parents did in Baghdad and the Lithuanian family who have been selling cured fish since before the establishment of Israel to the elderly Yemenite woman who cooks — day-in, day-out — traditional food in her open kitchen. The produce and cuisines found in every stall of every market of the city tell a story of Tel Aviv, how it came together from the people who came here, as well as the rich cultural history embedded in the food revered by present-day Israel.

In the kitchen with Curious Foodi Courtesy of Tahlia Berger/Asaf Avraham

A tour can be an intimate and unusual journey, which highlights the local and exotic flavors in the market. From the authentic to the modernized, the Carmel market is the clearest reflection of the country’s melting-pot population. We found that going into the market with a new approach, we were able to shine a light on the personal connection vendors have with their culinary culture, contextualize the history of the legendary market itself, and introduce participants to the little-known gems even the locals don’t know about!

Venezualan Arepas Courtesy of Tahlia Berger/Asaf Avraham

For those who can’t resist exotic spices, mixing tastes and styles, and those who enjoy munching a lot, Tel Aviv’s Yemenite Quarter and Carmel Market are a must-visit! The range of cuisines boasts flavors and traditional dishes from all corners of the world. By engaging your palate, these spots in Tel Aviv feed curiosity about other cultures. The Foodi tours introduce participants to everything from South African favorite Bunny Chow — a hollowed out challah bread loaded with spiced curry — to Venezuelan street food at the Shuk’s energetic Arepa’s and back to the Middle East and North Africa with authentic humus at the renowned Shlomo and Doron.

Let your senses guide you through the edible delights at home in the Carmel Market and Yemenite quarter. We recommend you eat and taste the rich history and culture of the people, traditions, and countries that make up the unique culinary scene in Tel Aviv.

South African Bunny Chow in the Shuk curiousfoodi/Instagram