Global Kitchen: Series3 -WINE & FOODS from ISRAEL-
Please tell us about yourself and your mission at the Embassy.
I have been working at the Embassy for three and a half years since I started my position here in Japan. I'm enjoying every minute - Japanese food, culture, people, nature, everything around here. Our mission is to promote collaboration between Israeli and Japanese industries. We work as the focal point for Israeli exporters who are looking for partners in the Japanese market so if they are looking for customers, investors, R&D partners, representatives, or distributor, they would reach out to us and we will assist them through our networks. We bring Israeli delegations of specific sectors and organize special events where they can meet potential partners. Recently, we had a wine event with 17 Israeli wine suppliers and it gathered more than 250 Japanese wine experts and professionals. We also support Japanese companies that are looking for advanced technologies developed in Israel as well as bring delegations from Japan to Israel and work with the Japanese government and organizations to enhance our bilateral collaboration.
What are the main products which are imported to Japan from Israel?
A little bit. We first have to educate the Japanese society, not just about the specific food but also about Israel. We must raise awareness of Israeli foods, so they will be interested in tasting the food. Since food is deeply connected to the country's culture, we are trying to promote food together with our culture.
Is Israeli cuisine influenced by other countries or has it developed independently in its own style?
Israel will be celebrating its 70th independence anniversary in 2018 but it has long been a land of immigrants. As a result, we have food from Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, North Africa, USA, and Latin America. Israeli food is a fusion of these different food cultures, but we can say that there are two main types of cuisines: traditional Jewish cuisine developed by the Jewish immigrants and Mediterranean cuisine based on vegetables, fruits, olive oil, dates, and local fresh products.
Tel Aviv, the main cultural city in Israel, is considered as a vegan capital of the world. Israel has the largest percentage of vegans. A lot of restaurants serve vegan-only menus. There are a lot of gluten-free manufactures too.
What I can also say is that Israeli food is related to the Jewish religion. In Jewish religion, we have many ceremonies and most of them are connected to food. Food and wine are part of the ceremony. For examplewe celebrate passover holiday- during which we do not eat anything that contains flour that was fermented or that was allowed to rise. During another holiday called Shavuot, we eat mainly dairy dishes. There are kosher restrictions on food we cannot eat, like pork, dairy mixed with meat, and seafood. This is what is special about Israeli cuisines. Food is really a culture.
Could you tell us about Israeli alcoholic beverages in general?
Israeli wine is very diverse. There are about 250 wineries, most are boutique wines, and about 30 are more matured. I heard from some Japanese people that the gentle taste of Israeli wines makes a great match with Japanese cuisine. Wine production in Israel goes back to the biblical times. Wine was mentioned in the bible many times and there are a lot of archeological findings proving that wine was produced in Israel 3000 years ago. Although wine production stopped over the years, it came back to life in around 1850. During the last 2 decades, it has been expanding and new wineries have been established. Since Israel is so diverse in terms of weather and topography, the wines produced in Israel are very different depending on the region. There are also 2 main Israeli beer available in Japan Maccabee and Goldstar. We hope to see some new Israeli boutique beers in Japan as well.
WHERE YOU CAN EAT ISRAELI FOODS IN TOKYO
TA-IM 1-29-16 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku TEL: 03-5424-2990
SHAMAIM TOKYO 2F 4-11 Sakaecho, Nerima-ku TEL: 03-3948-5333
PINK CAMILA 2F 1-5-16 Shimomeguro, Meguro-ku TEL: 03-6417-9888
DAVID'S DELI 5-13-13 Mita, Minato-ku TEL: 03-5441-1211
FALAFEL BROTHERS 1F 5-1-10 Roppongi, Minato-ku 03-6459-2844