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Kitchen Connection Goes to: Israel & Palestine

Kitchen Connection Goes to: Israel & Palestine

Flags of Israel and Palestine combined

With all of the constant media coverage of Israel and Palestine, it is hard to look past the controversial, internal, and political issues facing these two countries. However, these countries have a lot more to offer than just warfare and conflict. With 273 kilometers of coastline, Israel and Palestine are home to beautiful beaches including the Dead Sea. Located at the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea has some of the highest salt content of any other sea. They are also large producers of milk, fruit, vegetables and olives. Almost half of the land in Palestine is dedicated to olive production, weighing in at 45% of all the land. 


 Carmel Market Shuk HaCarmel in Tel Aviv - Israel


Official Name: Israel

Capital: Jerusalem

Official Language(s): Hebrew and Arabic

Main religions: Jewish

National Dish(es): Falafel

Culture:  Israel's culture is deeply rooted in the Jewish religion. In Israel, there are many Jewish immigrants from several different countries. As a result, Israel has a dynamic, creative and diverse culture. The holidays and festivals are all based on the Hebrew calendar.


%Urban to Rural:  92.3%

Primary Agricultural Exports: Wheat, Sunflowers, groundnuts, chickpeas, Citrus Fruits. 

Population: 8.547 million

Food expenditure for one week:  $67.20

Caloric intake available daily per person:  3530

Alcohol consumption per person:  9.1 liters

Obese population: 25.30% (8,321,570)

Big Mac Price:  $14

Meat consumption per person per year: 96kg

Prevalence of Hunger:   <5% 

National Dish (es):  Falafel


National Drink(s):  


The anise-based Arak is probably the most popular liquor among Israelis, and this drink made from Arak, lemonade and mint is one of its tastiest iterations. True lovers of Arak, however, prefer to have liquor on its own with a splash of water and a couple of ice cubes. 


The unofficial national beer of Israel, Goldstar is on the shelves in every store and on tap at almost every bar or restaurant. It’s a light and refreshing red lager that works for any occasion.

Campari with Orange Juice 

The Italian Campari is one of the drinks of the moment on the bar scene in Tel Aviv. Israelis like to mix it with orange or even grapefruit juice. The similar Aperol is also becoming popular, thanks to the pairing of an Aperol Spritz (sparkling wine, Aperol and soda water garnished with orange slices) with Tel Aviv’s prevalent summer-like weather.

Tubi 60 

Somewhat similar to a Limoncello, the Tubi 60 originated in the northern city of Haifa, but has taken Tel Aviv by storm. The concoction is made of lemons, ginger and other herbs mixed with pure grain alcohol. Together, they deliver an exquisite experience, which many say does not leave you with a hangover the next morning.

Arak with Khat Leaves

The stimulating Khat leaves are popular at Yemenite social gatherings, where people chew them for the burst of energy they provide, but they have become an increasingly popular drink ingredient as well. They also mix well with extra cold Arak, delivering a refreshing, sweet and sour flavor. If you don’t like Arak, you can also find Khat juice for sale in some places. Keep in mind that Khat contains the chemical stimulant cathonine, and while it is natural and legal, can still have health drawbacks over time.


Major Holidays/Special Holiday Foods:  Passover, Pentecost, Tisha Be’av, New year, Day of atonement ,Tabernacles.  Tzimmes (Sweet stew), Rich Honey cake, Sepdnardia Tispisht, 

Local produce: Fruits, Nuts, meat, hummus, fish, cheese

Banquet (party) dishes: Shakshuka with Fennel and Feta, Israeli Roast Eggplant, Hummus and Pickle Sandwich, Pit

Indigenous communities and their dishes: Druze, Palenstinians,


Native species: 

The Arabian Oryx (or White Oryx) actually went extinct out in the wild during the 1970s, but zoos and wildlife conservationists came to the rescue and were able to reintroduce the antelope back into the wild during the 1980s. While it's no longer considered endangered, the Arabian Oryx's conservation status is still listed as vulnerable. Its elegant, long horns and white hue make it one of Israel's most beautiful creatures. 

Fire Salamander (Salamandra Salamandra)

Just look at those markings! The Fire Salamander is one of the most well-known amphibians in Europe, but it's one of only two salamanders (from the order Urodela) left in Israel. The other is the Banded Newt and it's critically endangered. What makes the Fire Salamander so beautiful are its distinct, bold markings with yellow, red, orange (or a mixture of the three) on a stark black background. It's a stunning animal. 

Sand Cat (Felis margarita)

Who doesn't love an absolutely adorable cat, right? This is the Internet, after all, so I would be crazy not to include Israel's precious Sand Cat in this list. Also known as the Sand Dune Cat, it's the only member of the family of cats that actually lives in the desert, but it doesn't look all that different from most domesticated cats. Its fur is a sandy brownish and it sometimes features darker stripes or spots. Just look at that face!

Arabian Leopard (Panthera pardus nimr)

The smallest of all leopards, the Arabian Leopard has been critically endangered since 2006 when it was confirmed that fewer than 200 of the animals were in existence. While it closely resembles the African Leopard, scientists used DNA from a captive leopard found in Israel to determine that the Arabian Leopard is, indeed, its own distinct subspecies. What a beautiful, majestic creature that, hopefully, can bounce back from the brink of extinction.

Middle East Tree Frog (Hyla savignyi)

The Middle East Tree Frog is abundant throughout many regions of the Mediterranean including Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Its bright green coloring and distinct brown eyes make it one of the most striking frogs in the area.

Caracal (Caracal caracal)

Yes, it's technically another cat, but I couldn't resist including the beautiful Caracal in this list of Israel's most beautiful animals. Look at those amazing ears! Also known as the Desert Lynx, the Caracal can be found all over parts of Africa and Asia, but is considered threatened in North Africa. Hunting of the animal is outlawed in many countries, including Israel.

Marbled Polecat (Vormela peregusna)

The Marbled Polecat easily makes this list because of its colorful patterns. The strong white and black neck and head juxtaposed with the marbled brownish, yellow rear end makes it completely adorable. Don't get too close though: Marbled Polecats can emit a strong-smelling secretion (similar to skunks) when they feel threatened.

Mountain Gazelle (Gazella gazella)

The Mountain Gazelle's ornate horns put it in the same category of beautiful animals as the previously mentioned Arabian Oryx. It's brown, black, and white body is quite pleasing to the eye as well, but those horns are something so unique and special that they just set apart the animal from its relatives. 

Syrian Spadefoot (Pelobates syriacus)

The Syrian Spadefoot (or Eastern Spadefoot) is a toad that's quite abundant from Eastern Europe to Western Asia. It's unique green markings and bulging eyes (with vertical pupils) makes it a really neat-looking creature. Along with the Middle East Tree Frog, it's one of only five animals in Israel from the order Anura.

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

No, no. Not that Redd Foxx. This Red Fox is no comedian, but it is one of the most abundant carnivores in the entire Northern Hemisphere. Being so common, however, doesn't detract from the animal's sheer beauty. That golden fur and the sharp angles of its face all make the Red Fox quite the looker.  


SDGs that are especially prevalent in the respective country: 4,14


Fun Facts: 

1.Israelis consume the third most amount of vegetables and sweets in the world.

2. Breeding and raising pigs in Israel is illegal for Jewish people

3. It is possible to see many large wild animals in Palestine, including wild boar, foxes, mountain gazelles, wolves, jackals, hyenas, leopards and the Nubian Ibex (a desert dwelling goat species), plus many species of migratory bird!



Official Name: State of Palestine

Country:  Palestine

Capital:   East Jerusalem

Primary Language(s):  Arabic

Main religions: Sunni Islam 

Largest City (ies):  Gaza City

Culinary travel destination(s):  Bethelem, Ramallah, Beit Sahour, Jericho

Urban to Rural:  75.5%

Population: 4.55 million

Food expenditure for one week:  $49.07

Caloric intake available daily per person:  2080

Big Mac Price:  $7.13

Meat consumption per person per year: 21.3 kg

Culture:  Palestinian social customs and traditions are similar to those of other Arab countries and date back to when Palestine was a rural, agricultural society and life centered on the village and the farming calendar. There were a few small cities, like Jerusalem, Nablus, Hebron and Gaza, that specialized in the production of goods. Palestinian culture is influenced by the many diverse cultures and religions which have existed in historic Palestine. Cultural contributions to the fields of art, literature, music, and food express the Palestinian identity despite the geographical separation between the Palestinian territories, Palestinian citizens  and the diaspora.

National Dish (es): Maqluba

National Drink(s):  Arak

Major Holidays/Special Holiday Foods:  New Year's Day- Deir Yassin Movable- Ramadan Movable- Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan) Movable- Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)- Independence Islamic New Year Christmas Day

Fun foodie facts:  The food of Palestine is a scrumptuous dishes, sharing culinary traits with Middle Eastern and East meditarranean region

Local produce:Baked goods that do not require refrigeration, such as cakes, cookies, breads, and pastries Candy (including chocolate, chocolate-dipped pretzels, etc.)Coated and uncoated nuts, Unroasted nut butters Fruit butters Canned jams and jellies Fruit pies Dehydrated fruits and vegetables including dried beans Popcorn and popcorn snacks Cereal, including granola Dry mixes Vinegar Pickles (Pickled cucumbers only)Mustard, Roasted coffee or dry tea, Dried herbs or herb mixes

Banquet (party) dishes: One of the most prominent dishes served was ‘asida’ a type of dumpling made from cracked wheat flour and boiled in water. It was served with a layer of rice and large pieces of lamb. This was a very simple yet rich dish that was very filling and mainly eaten during occasions.

Mansaf’ is another traditional dish that is typically served during all large gatherings in Palestine, especially weddings. Mansaf is made of lamb cooked in a sauce made of dried fermented yogurt, typically served with rice or bulgur on top of a thin piece of ‘shrak’ bread. The name mansaf originates from the term for “large tray”, which is exactly how this dish is served to guests at large gatherings. The large tray dishes typically around 36 inches in diameter would be spread out on top of white sheets on the floor in which groups of six to eight guests would be seated in a circle around the dish. Each of the guests would share and indulge in the dish, each eating with only their right hand and grabbing from the portion directly in front of them. In addition, the immediate family members of both the bride and the groom do not eat until all of the guests have eaten. 

Indigenous communities and their dishes: Samaritan

Native species: Mammals found only in this region include four chromosomal species of the Palestine blind mole rat and the Naqab or Negev Shrew . Palestine Golden Jackal , the Gaza or Palestine House Mouse , the Palestine Sunbird and the Palestine or Yellow-vented or White-eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus xanthopygos).

Fringe-fingered Lizard  Endemic amphibians include the recently discovered Jerusalem or Judean Hills tree frog Hyla and the extinct Palestinian or Hula Painted Frog     

SDGs that are especially prevalent in the respective country: 8,9,17



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