Shopping with a Palestinian chef in Tel Aviv

Written by By Jim Lane, CNN

It takes a lot to impress Fatimah Galadari. She’s not sure about ice cream, and there’s really no need. But when she finds some, she’s happy. She’s had enough ghee to feed herself and a few others for a few days.

One of her favorite offshoots of dairy is lahmajoun , a smoothie the outside of which comes in two pieces rather than the standard two or three — “the good shape,” she says. If she has to choose a drink, she goes for baba ghanoush, “one of the best things I’ve had in Israel, or Palestine for that matter.”

Some of the best stuff she’s had in Palestine. Credit: Hannah Strong/CNN

Galadari spends most of her time in Tel Aviv, but has been driving for long periods between the West Bank and Jerusalem in hopes of finding just the right cheese to make her day-to-day life bearable. Having just returned from a trip to Israel, I asked her to tell me about her favorite grocery store — and the kind of cheese it sells. Here’s what she had to say:

What is your favorite area of the West Bank to buy groceries?

This is a tough one. I’m picky. If I don’t know the product, I’ll find out at the market and buy locally. I shop there once a week, and I use the small supermarket on Abdullah Ibn Umar street. It’s very touristy.

Before I came back, I’d go to another for some honey for the bed. I had a visit from General Sunada, and that’s a local. He and I go out together for lunch a couple of times a week. If I can’t get that, or if I don’t know the product, I’ll just get lunch and eat it myself.

How do you find your favourite things to buy?

It’s very hard for me. I’m a girl of 16. They have cheeses they say are the best. But I like simple cheeses. Things like 1.5 grams of ghee for 100 grams of cheese. And I have a friend with passion for honey. She makes the best baba ghanoush, and she sells it at cheap prices.

I found myself leaving Jerusalem empty-handed, because I left those things. I am very persistent. I go back there three or four times a month. Maybe that’s why I have a lot of ghee in my fridge. Maybe that’s why you can’t find the right product.

In Israel, from what I’ve heard, the use of ghee is very popular. But still they ask you not to show their faces.

What are your favorite non-food items you buy from your favorite grocery store?

I like bottled Ghesquières. It’s natural. I sometimes buy juice.

Who is your favorite Palestinian chef, or cook?

This is difficult to answer. Two chefs really excite me. I would say Ramadan Khatami and Dr. Hasan. I’m a vegetarian and I don’t eat meat. I’m not sure if they have a lot of vegetables in their recipes, but they prepare them in a beautiful way.

And now, you’ve found us. So what would you recommend that I could fill me up with — and in a decent way — on a nice summer day?

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