Read This Now: Israeli Cuisine In The Spotlight

Photo courtesy Collin Keefe, TheDrinkNation.com

Photo courtesy Collin Keefe, TheDrinkNation.com

So the good folks over at Food Republic had an interesting idea: 5 editors, 5 world cuisines, 5 days, with each day’s focus being stories about (or inspired by) a single cuisine about which the editors wanted to learn more.

Yesterday, it was Japanese food. Today, it’s Israeli, with a bunch of stories all being done by Matt Rodbard. And one of those stories happens to be all (well, half) about Michael Solomonov, Zahav, and Solo’s two upcoming restaurants–which, of course, is why I noticed it in the first place.




Not just that Solomonov got a mention. It's not like I'm stalking the guy or anything. But being a non-Philly writer writing about things Philadelphian, Rodbard got taken to task for a (slightly) clumsy line he included which some readers took as a slight against Philadelphia. It wasn't, actually, but it did ruffle enough feathers that I--as the man who once went all kinds of apeshit over Matt Duckor characterizing Philadelphians as a bunch of jug-blowing knuckleheads and fatties who didn't know enough to wear our good overalls out to a fancy dinner at the Olive Garden--was looped into the Twitter conversation.

Here's what Rodbard actually said:

"Before Zahav’s opening, Israeli cuisine was hardly on the radar in the United States, and most certainly not in the slightly provincial culinary scene in Philadelphia."

It was the "slightly provincial" line that angried up the people, despite the fact that he was talking about Philly pre-Zahav and, for the whole rest of the piece (and ALL of the piece that he linked to), pretty much slathered on the love for our fair city.

But anyway, that's all beside the point. What matters is that Rodbard wrote a good, solidly reported essay on Zahav, Solomonov, Balaboosta in the West Village, and Israeli food in general. And if you care about such things (which you should), you should really check it out.

Israeli Food In 2014: Is The Hummusiya The New Banh Mi Shop? [Food Republic]

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  • Dan

    The problem is that most of what has been said by the critics is true, if this were the 90’s. The city as we know it really didn’t exist. Crime was so high, real estate was pretty much worthless (no one wanted to live in the city) and no one even thought about opening a restaurant anywhere but on RR. There were a couple of decent places in Chinatown and a couple of decent byobs in South Philly but that was it.

    While the food scene in the city was non-existent it was provincial to say the
    least in the suburbs. Basically, it was generic Italian food, your crappy
    Chinese, and chain American food. If you look at the mainline and virtually
    every suburb this is basically still the case.

    I am life-long city resident, these are not slights, these are facts. However,
    what these writers are missing is the fact that the same is true with virtually
    every other city in this country. In the 90’s, Brooklyn did not exist in any
    way shape or form like it does now. Manhattan had a few enclaves of creativity
    and the large number of immigrants may have helped, but many places like Boston
    still haven’t caught on.

    Bottom line: the fact is that the much maligned “hipster” movement is
    recent everywhere and has changed most of the major cities into diverse
    cultural centers. While this is more often pointed out with Philly than with
    other places for whatever reason, it is still a fact. Perhaps there is hope
    even for Boston.

    • tjt

      one problem with that defense: Zahav didn’t open until 2008. So what you write is true of 90s Philly, the slight was speaking to 2000s Philly and thus woefully inaccurate. AND it was the text for a hyperlink to a list of current spots to check out in philly. just a lazy writing and linking fail. nbd, but definitely a fail. and it’s funny to see Sheehan defend it, he of philly for all of one year or so.