A Breakfast To Love, Israeli Style
Shakshuka changed everything for this breakfast hater. For years I've insisted that "the most important meal of the day" was nothing more than a bland and boring chore.
This morning in Jerusalem, I sampled my first-ever, authentic Israeli breakfast. And that's where I found it: shakshuka, and it made me swoon.
It's not at all fancy, just eggs poached in tomato sauce with peppers, olive oil and herbs. Like most seemingly simple things, it's deceptive. That's because a successful shakshuka relies as much on texture as flavor. First, a cook must make a sublime tomato sauce. The sauce can't be too watery or too thick, and it needs to be the right temperature to cradle and cook the eggs uniformly, not runny or rubbery. Mine were silky and buttery and perfect. It's no surprise many diners dip bread into their plates to soak up the leavings.
Food historians are divided on the dish's origins. Some believe it originated in North Africa while others place its beginning in the Ottoman Empire. A wave of Jewish immigrants from both regions to Israel in the mid-twentieth century brought shakshuka with them.
There's much, much more to say about the sumptuous Israeli breakfast experience -- but it will have to wait for another day. Today my heart and my palate belong only to shakshuka.