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Land of milk and hummus: Film looks at Israel’s food culture

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This food film shows us a melting pot.

A documentary premiering at Cobble Hill’s Brooklyn Israel Film Festival on Jan. 24 explores the people and culture of Israel through food and flavor, providing a new look at a country often viewed in light of political strife.

“We wanted to give people another type of insight into Israel,” said festival chair Naomi Berger, who selected “In Search of Israeli Cuisine” alongside a pair of darker political films to showcase the full complexity of the country.

The film trails award-winning, Israeli-born chef Michael Solomonov as he explores the unique combinations of cultures and traditions that inform the culinary hodgepodge that is Israeli cuisine — ultimately, exploring the question of whether a distinct Israeli cuisine even exists, given the country’s relative youth and the diversity of culinary styles that go into the cooking.

“There are over a hundred cultures that have come to Israel from around the world, and many that have been there for hundreds of years, and they each have their own distinct heritage, and with that heritage comes food traditions,” said Roger Sherman, the film’s director.

Sherman, who will speak after the film’s premiere on Sunday, says that he was blown away by Israel’s rich food culture

“I went and was completely knocked out by the food scene there,” he said. “It is like New York or San Francisco or Paris. You can’t get into the restaurants.”

The country’s approach to food may ring true to urban viewers who make their way to the Kane Street Synagogue for the premiere — Israeli chefs have a strong penchant for all-natural, freshly-picked ingredients, just like trendy chefs in Brooklyn. But a chef in Israel would never identify as locavore, said Sherman.

“The idea of locavore is completely foreign to them because everything is local,” said Sherman. “You can drive most of the country within two hours.”

“In Search of Israeli Cuisine” premieres at the Brooklyn Israel Film Festival at the Kane Street Synagogue [236 Kane St. at Tompkins Place in Cobble Hill, (718) 875–1550, www.kanestreet.org/biff2016]. Jan. 24 at 7 pm. $15.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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