Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Shuk. The Mahane Yehuda.

The most intoxicating smells, in Mahane Yehuda, undoubtedly come from the bread bakers.

From the City Hall light rail stop, I rode the train for three stops to the Mahane Yehuda stop which is right outside the market.


The first part of the market I walked through was the open air market. Lots of fruits (fresh and dried), veggies, nuts, breads, olives and pastries for sale.

The open air market on Mahane Yehuda Street.

LOTS of dried fruits for sale - dates, figs, prunes, apricots, raisins, cranberries, kiwi, pineapple and even mango.

It's spring now and strawberries seem to be the fruit popular with the vendors. The strawberries are enormous in size and bright red. The look tasty but you have to buy a big container which I know I cannot each before the fruit will go bad so I passed them by.

I've never seen such large strawberries!

Spices and condiments of all sorts. They have spices and additions for making rice pilafs.

Plenty of vendors selling canned and dried goods.

Oh....the bread.  If I wasn't already so stuffed from lunch....

More dried fruit.

On a parallel street is the covered market. More of the same things being sold here as well as fresh fish....lots of salmon, cheeses and pastries.

The covered section of Mahane Yehuda runs parallel to the open air market.

Baklava!!

Lots and lots and lots of olives for sale.

There were a few vendors selling one thing that is classically Middle Eastern - halva. There was a vendor that had quite a large selection - different varieties. I have heard of halva but I don't really know what it is so I asked the guy. I get the feeling that the older men here don't like talking to women they don't know. I don't think this guy was all that much older than me but he was very gruff. In any event, I just ignore the attitude and asked my question, "What is halva". Turns out it is a dessert made from sesame. From what I can tell, the sesame is ground into a paste and can be flavored with different fillings. I love hazelnuts so I decided to buy a piece. Because it's crumbly, there's a *minimum* size they cut and the piece I ended up buying cost me 40 shekels!! That's some expensive sesame seeds. Have to admit, it does taste good and would be a delicious accompaniment to a strong cup of coffee.  After I got over my momentary sticker shock, I continued to walk around the market.

Halva which I learned is basically flavored sesame seed paste.
Very crumbly and very, very sweet. 

The halva is decorated on top with what the flavoring is. 
This one is hazelnut pistachio.


Mahane Yehuda was just not about food.  Plenty of kippas for sale as well.....in case you need one.

Veggie vendor.  The produce in Israel looks very good.  Not much variety but what is sold is high quality.

Can't be in the Middle East and not see bags and bags of spices!

Walking through the market, I had no problems walking by the cheese stalls or the spice vendors. I didn't even give the meat vendors a second look. But the bread vendors. They were a different story. I could smell the intoxicating aroma of bread baking in the oven. I stopped by one vendor. This time a gruff younger man. I pointed to the naan looking bread with a green topping smeared on top. I had no idea what it was but I knew I wanted to try it. I asked him how much for a piece and he replied 4 shekels. I pulled out my wallet and got a 10 shekel coin. I then stood and waited while he rearranging some rolls of bread. He was basically ignoring me but I stood firm. He then handed me a plastic bag and I grabbed a piece of the bread and put it inside the bag. I then handed him the coin and got change back. So not friendly. No matter because I am munching on the bread as I type this blog and I can tell you that is very delicious. The bread is soft and slightly spongy. The topping has a spread made of mint and oregano (I think). There are also ground pine nuts and sesame seeds. The salt must be coarse salt that's hand scattered on each piece because you can taste where some bits of bread are saltier than others. It didn't take me long to finish the piece. I would imagine it would be good as the sandwich bread for grilled meat. Oh yes, it would be good smeared with hummus or tahini and then grilled meat plopped on top. I am now wishing I had bought a second piece.

Bread.  I bought the pita with zaatar for 4 shekels.

It was mid afternoon and I was getting tired. It had been another long day. I'm definitely getting old. In my younger days, I could walk for 10+ hours before calling it a day. Now, I can last about 9 hours or so and that's it. So sad. Getting old is starting to cramp my travel style :-(

I headed back to the rail stop and did the needful to head back to the hotel. I have a bit of office work before calling it a night. I also got a confirmation call from my tour guide. He's picking me up at 8:30a so I'm getting up a bit earlier to have breakfast before heading out for the day.

The light rail train pulling into the Mahane Yehuda stop.

Can't believe I only have two days left in Jerusalem. I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of all the things there are to see and do in this amazing city. I definitely want to come back one day!

Good night from Jerusalem!