Essential things can sometimes fall through the cracks: we all like to enjoy a good meal. Why not make use of this very universal desire – and the very basic guarantee of it in the human right to ‘adequate’ food – and bring together some improbable nations and regions of the world. In their eastern Mediterranean cook book ‘Jerusalem‘, the two Israeli chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi have undertaken exactly this endeavour. Both of them being chefs living in London – with their signature restaurant NOPI and other outlets – grew up in Jerusalem. The fusion they are presenting is a culinary one mainly. But they also ‘decorate’ the presented dishes with political notes, when ingredients from East and West Jerusalem, the Palestinian territories, Syria, Turkey and others are merged into a modern eastern Mediterranean cuisine that transcends borders. Not to forget, and maybe even more importantly, it thereby also transcends religions. Hummus and its universality in use throughout both Arab and Jewish just like Christian communities is one straight forward example of this. And when ‘typically German’ kohlrabi comes in, it certainly does not simplify the equation.
The trace of political relevance which has been added to the menu to spice things up a little is not to distract from the culinary pleasures. But it can possibly serve as an incentive to enjoy the food particularly consciously. There is admittedly quite some conciousness demanded of the regular eating person already. Maybe the products of an hour of kitchen work or so can simply generate a drip of hope. Hope that there may be good acceptance and understanding beyond the menu in the Middle East at some point. In staging a presentation of the book by the authors together with author Jonathan Safran Foer, at least one thing has certainly been achieved: Everything Is Illuminated! Somehow. Maybe you all can illuminate even more and contribute with some additional flavours.