Posted by Iris Hami on Sep 17, 2013 9:34:18 AM
So says Anthony Bourdain about the magnificent, contentious lands of Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
The host and crew of CNN's "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" traveled to this divided land for the Season 2 premiere on September 15 (9pm ET/PT).
No doubt the political situation is often tense between all the peoples living in these areas, as Bourdain can simply see by crossing between Israeli-controlled and Palestinian-controlled lands.
Exploring Jerusalem's old city
Bourdain has traditional Palestinian meal Even when Bourdain concentrates on the rich history, food and culture of the region, spending time with Muslim and Jewish chefs, home cooks and cookbook authors, the answers are debated over and over. Where does falafel come from? Who makes the best hummus? And a non-food question: Is it a fence or a wall?
"The question of food appropriation or who owns the food is massive here," says Jerusalem-born chef Yotam Ottolenghi, now a London restaurateur and co-author of the cookbook, "Jerusalem." Ottolenghi escorts Bourdain through distinct neighborhoods of Jerusalem, taking him to a typical falafel stand. "It can go on forever here."
"Gaza Kitchen" cookbook author Laila El-Haddad takes him on a hunt for a watermelon salad made just 30 minutes outside Gaza City, also showing him the three distinct cuisines of Gaza City, its villages and the seafood of the coast.
Just outside of Jerusalem in the Judean Hills, he sits at Majda, a restaurant run by a husband and wife team who are a mixed-faith couple. Michal, the chef, is Jewish and Israeli; Yaakov, who grows much of the food, is Palestinian and Muslim. They cook him a meal from their shared food traditions. And it's vegetarian.
The same land, often the same ingredients, cooking for family and friends, welcoming Bourdain to the table. Is it fanciful to think that these struggling peoples, "locked in such an intimate of deadly embrace, might somehow, someday figure out how to live with each other?" he asks.
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