by: Talia Goldberg, Community Shlicha
One of the most important parts of a Israeli meal are the middle eastern appetizers. Every Israeli traditional shabbat dinner will always begin with appetizers called Salatim, which means Salts. I want to tell you about the Middle Eastern appetizers that are very common in the israeli kitchen. Middle Eastern appetizers are part of Israeli tradition that comes from the Mizrahi Jews, and I have a story about that.
So my older brother did a gap year up in Kiryat Shmona where he experienced dinners with salatim and decided that we should start that tradition at our home as well. My parents made him in charge of making them. One Friday, he was completely burning an eggplant on the propane stove, which is absolutely legit, that's how the recipe told him to do it. My European non-Jewish grandmother comes in and freaks out! You're burning the food!! What are you doing? As he is trying to calm her down, he tells her that the recipe says to cook the eggplant on an open fire but she stays sceptical. A couple of hours later, she tasted the smoked eggplant in the tahini and it became her favorite dish on the table.
Before I left, my family usually had at least 8 salatim on the table, and they are always the best part of the meal. It's really fun to be able to have such a variety of flavors on the table from recipes that we as a family keep collecting which adds to the feeling of home on Friday night dinner. I think there's something so Israeli in letting our salatim be this fun mosaic of stories on the table because every salad on our table has a story, just like our “burned” eggplants.