The people of Jerusalem are justifiably proud of their ineluctable cuisine

with multifaceted cultural mosaic contributing to a dazzling array of foods

reminiscent of the gastronomical delights of the 1,001 Arabian Nights.

Probably,   one   factor   contributing   to   the   incredibly   rich   variety   of   foods   and   delicacies available   is   that   because   traditionally   housewives   would   not   be   working   outside   the   home, they have plenty of time to indulge in culinary experiments, some verging on the fantastic. Would   a   working   (or   housebound)   women   in   a   Western   society   have   the   time   or forbearance   to   sit   down   and   set   about   scouring   or   hollowing   a   score   of   zucchinis,   without puncturing the skin or wrecking it? And then push the stuffing inside them, one by one? What   about   the   onerous   task   of   kneading   the   dough   needed   for   baking   baguettes   or bagels and their succulent derivatives? In   societies   driven   by   the   desire   to   "succeed",   and   the   concomitant   push   to   rush,      and get   where   they   are   headed,   faster,   there   can   be   no   allowances   made   for   such   luxuries.   Just pop   a   prepackaged   frozen   dinner   in   the   oven,   or   throw   a   steak   on   the   barbie,   and   call   it   a feast. In   Jerusalem,   as   in   other   parts   of   the   Middle   East,   the   business   of   preparing   food   is   of more paramount importance. And the results of all those efforts are dazzling indeed. From   the   humble   fare   of   "falafel"   to   the   royal   banquet   of   a   "mansaf",   to   the   stuffed pigeons   -   which   you   can   find   at   only   one   place   in   the   Old   City   of   Jerusalem,   offered   by   the Arab   apprentice   who   inherited   the   secret   from   his   Greek   patron   and   chef   -   you   have   a choice of limitless possibilities. One   thing   that   sets   these   foods   apart   is   the   fact   that   the   main   ingredients   are inevitably   fresh.   In   spring,   there   is   an   over   abundance   of   succulent   fruits   and   nutritious vegetables, trucked in daily from the fertile fields of the growers. (Two   special   treats   worthy   of   mention   are   Jericho   oranges   and   "mistkawi"   apricots, which make only a brief appearance, and are considered a royal luxury). The   "souk"   (market)   is   only   a   stone's   throw   away,   and   if   a   housewife   needs   anything from there, she an always pop down there or have someone get her what she needs. Depending   on   how   strong   your   stomach   is,   here's   a   menu   of   the   most   popular      dishes of the Old City of Jerusalem, not in any particular order: some of these are only seasonal .
Armenian Jerusalem
This project has been supported by the Gulbenkian philanthropic Foundation, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and members of the worldwide Armenian community. Reproductions of the genealogical documents [domar’s] are courtesy Photo Garo, Jerusalem. Copyright © 2007 Arthur Hagopian
a   vegetarian's   salad   paradise. A    rich    mixture    of    burghul, parsley,   tomatoes,   onions   (but   no   garlic),   l emon and   sometimes   cucumbers,   bathed   in   a   thin   lake of olive oil.
wafer   thin   pastry   square   filled with   cheese   and   sprinkled   with syrup    (mainly    sugar    boiled    in    water)    -    only    at Zalatimo's,   near   the   Church   of   the   Holy   Sepulchre. And   if   he   is   in   a   happy   mood,   the   old   man   will show    you    the    archeological    wonder    behind    his shop.
a   dessert,   too   sweet   for   some,   a layer    of cheese,    noodles    and nuts    spread    in    a    circular    tray, again   with   a   topping   of   syrup   -   the   best   purveyor? Ja’afar.   close   to   the   Damascus   Gate.   Partaking   of this    exquisite    delicacy    is    the    epitome    of    a gourmet’s culinary delight.
a    paste    made    from    chickpeas and        tahina,        with        garlic embedded   in   the   mixture,   sprinkled   with   parsley and   libated   with   olive   oil.   Some   connoisseurs   like it with minced meat spread on top.
a    variety    of    hummos, with whole   chickpeas   swimming   in olive   oil.   Sometimes,   fried   minced   lamb   and   pine seeds   are   spread   on   top.   Zalatimo,   near   the   Holy Sepulchre, is the only one who makes it.
(halab    -    Aleppo)    -    little    cakes (shaped   like   a   computer   mouse), stuffed    with    walnuts    and spices,    the    private domain    of    the    Kaghakatsi   Armenians    of    the    Old City,    and    only    during    the    Christmas/New    Year week,    available    only    around    Christmas    and    the New   Year.   Topped   with   specially   concocted   fluffy "cream."
a   barbeque.   There   are   various ways    of    preparing    this    kingly f east,    but    predominantly    it    is    a    mixture    of minced     lamb     and     beef,     garnished     with shredded   onion   (and   sometimes   garlic),   and parsley, along with various spices.
baked    minced    meat    pie. Various      thicknesses      and styles.    Commonly    lamb,    with    onions,    garlic, parsley and spices.
stuffed     pigeons, available only   at   the   new   Costa's,   near the    Khan,    off    the    Christian    Quarter.    The pigeons are said to be bred in Hebron
a    typically    Bedouin    banquet, chunks     of     lamb     buried     in mounds    of    rice    (rich    in    oil). Taken   with   yogurt.   Traditionally,   eaten   with   the hands.
chicken    grilled    in    olive    oil and   wrapped   in   pita bread. The   most   famous   restaurant   offering   this   is   at Na'oom, in Ramallah.
spiced    raw    block    of    beef, best      eaten      sliced      t hin. Wrapped   in   chaman   paste.   Bastermah   is   a   king's delight - but it oozes off the pores!
an    Ouzo    cousin,    best    mixed    with water.   But it   can   also   be   added   to Coke - an anathema to real Arak aficionados.
Any     vegetable     that     can     be cored   or   scoured,   and stuffed either   simply   with   a   mixture   of   rice,   tomatoes and   spices    (for   vegetarians),   or   with   minced lamb added, cooked in a tomato paste "soup. "
ringed   bagel   studded   with sesame seeds,   usually   eaten   with   cheese   or dipped in "za'atar" (thyme)..
prepared        mainly        by        the Kaghakatsis           during           the Christmas/New   Year   week.   Basically,   onion   and spices   embedded   into   a   paste   of   chickpeas   and potatoes,   tied   up   in   a   bundle,   and   boiled.   Taken with olive oil and lemon.
only   during   Ramadan.   Little   pies stuffed   with   cheese   or   walnuts and spices, and dipped into a syrup.
needs   no   introduction   - both   Arabs and   Jews   claim   they   came   up   with it   first.   Round   balls   of   seasoned   chickpea   paste fried in very hot oil.
vine   leaves   wrapped   around   a   mix of     rice,     minced     lamb, onion, parsley,    spices.    The    vegeterian    variety    (sans meat) is cooked with olive oil.
Any   vegetable   that   can   be   cored or    scoured,    and stuffed    either simply    with    a    mixture    of    rice,    tomatoes    and spices. Cooked in tomato sauce.
“mutabbaq” at Zalatimo’s