Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Today was the Muslim feast of sacrifice (Eid al-Adha). All over Jaffa you could see slaughtered lambs being taken apart for the big evening cookout. Near Abu Hassan I saw an old grandpa extracting what he could from a lamb's head, with the rest of what used to be the lamb piled before him, while chatting with his toddler grandson. My childhood was nothing like that.

Some of you may find this odd or even revolting, but that pile of lamb looked really good to yours truly. Meat, like anything else, is best consumed raw. I bought 50 sheqels worth of entrecote today for a stir fry and while waiting for the onion to brown, couldn't resist having a bit of it "au naturel". Jaffa butchers deliver quality that allows you to do that. Hinnawi and Abu-Hilwe are the best known. They can always be trusted and the Arab raised livestock from which their meat is derived is not at all your typical industrial farm fare.

I also bought a fresh palamida (Atlantic bonito) from across the street for the dinner's starter and went for it sashimi-style while cutting it into the curry. Rawness is simply such a gift and again - reliable vendors are the key to a good life. That palamida was still wet with sea water when I bought it. The one fillet I have left will still be good for an avocado and grapefruit ceviche tomorrow morning.

Life in Tel-Aviv metro is being kinder and kinder to lovers of raw. Steak Tartar (also known as "filet a l'Americain" although very few Americans would regard it as food) is now available in at least three places: the Brasserie, Joz Veloz and Yoezer Bar Yayin. The sushi scene is crazy, with sushi bars competing with falafel stands for domination of the streetscape. Onami on Ha'arba'ah Street is considered the finest in town.

Sticking to fine meat is similar to preferring cigars. It's expensive and thus not consumed in high quantities. It is more fun and its consumption doesn't contribute in the same way to a disgusting industry as does eating run of the mill meat/smoking cigarettes. Sure, this isn't vegetarianism, but there's some value to it. Pulling on an unlit cigar, however, is nothing like eating a steak tartar. This is where my analogy dies.


Rachel said...

Your description of raw lamb (and raw meat in general) made me realize there is something more revolting than the Yerushalmi "chicken insides" sandwich (as I call it). And after a bite of that sandwich, I truly thought I had come across the worlds most disgusting entree. :)

Yuval said...

See, I knew I was making myself enemies here, not to mention that I love that "Jerusalem mixed grill" sandwich.

However, Rachel, by looking at your profile and blog I learned:

1. That showarma in a lafa is one of your interests, so you're not entirely a lost soul.

2. That you too do strange things to your fish before cooking it ("standing on it so it knows who's the boss"). My grandpa used to say that after eating fish you should always drink a bit of brandy so the fish won't think a cat ate it.

3. That yesterday was the Jewish fast of 10 Tevet. This makes my choice of dedicating a post to decadent eating rather ironic. Alas, keeping track of three calanders is difficult, which is Jaffa's blessing in disguise.

Rachel said...

Your grandfather is very wise...

Anonymous said...

I don't normally comment on blogs (except for my recent music info request to you) but a whole entry about raw meat deserves something - I LOVE steak dripping with blood but have never had the opportunity to eat steak tartar. My best rare steak memory is one I ate in Andorra - the Basques do it well. More raw food please!

girl who speaks in tongues

P.S If you don't already then try adding fresh mint leaves to watermelon and feta salad.