Shake the Shakshuka
“Vegans make better lovers,” tweeted Californian Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson who has just celebrated tying the knot for the fifth time. “The cholesterol in meat, eggs and dairy causes hardening of the arteries (and not much else). It slows blood flow to all the body’s organs, not just the heart. You can improve your overall health and increase stamina in the bedroom by going vegan.” As an active vegan, the animal rights star has been researching her hypothesis for the last 30 years.
“I’m fairly confident in this statement,” she later tweets. “Although I think I’ve always had a lot of fun in that department. It’s a romantic way of caring about the world, about life and the environment. It’s another little perk to being vegan!” Not to be taken with a pinch of salt, while red meat eaters clearly don’t make for red hot lovers, vegetarians must surely pass the mustard in the sack, knowing their quixotic onions so to speak. Certainly food for thought.
Which brings us nicely onto Bubala, the little Middle Eastern restaurant with the big international agenda in East London’s Spitalfields. As we await Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv comes to us. Best served on wheat straw plates, hardcore meze has never tasted this good. ‘Bubala’ is roughly the Yiddish for sweetheart or darling. Yiddish is the language of the Ashkenazi Jews of Central and Eastern Europe.
Founder Marc Summers explains, “We’ve been inspired by our backgrounds and heritage. There are a couple of Jewish things on the menu which reflects the area we’re in – a century ago Spitalfields was very Jewish. My grandfather was born here, as was Helen’s grandmother, so the location means a lot to us. It took a long time to find the right location for Bubala, but when we found this place we knew we had to go for it.” The restaurant is a falafel’s throw from Christ Church Spitalfields.
“We’d had enough of dealing with meat on a daily basis,” Marc continues. “Sticking to vegetarian dishes means everything feels a lot more hygienic in the kitchen and it’s a nicer environment to work in. Our Head Chef Helen Graham was also getting a bit tired of seeing the amount of waste that can come from cooking meat in a restaurant so it was something we were both keen to focus on.”
“Meze has many iterations across the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa,” explains Helen. “Spanning such a broad region, it’s no surprise that the word brings conflict. ‘Meze’ is of Turkish origin, borrowed from the Persian ‘mazze’ meaning ‘snack’ or ‘taste’. Indeed, many cultures enjoy meze as an appetiser. Where the concept of opening your appetite is foreign, meze refers to the entire thing from the first scoop of hummus to the final button undoing bite.”
Televivian Journal is the magazine of choice for every cosmopolitan citizen of Israel’s party capital and a few savvy London subscribers too. Shalom! Lehitraot? What does Ruthie Rousso, food critic and contributor to the latest hard hitting hard copy edition of Televivian Journal, think of Tel Aviv cuisine and its emergence on the world stage? Or should that be world table?
“The complex Israeli identity is contained on every plate: in every tiny heirloom Palestinian bamya served with preserved lemon and brown butter served in ‘haBasta’, and in every steaming pita stuffed with roasted cauliflower, crème fraîche and local hot pepper at Eyal Shani’s Miznon… The Israeli chefs and restaurateurs continue to dare, insist on trying, are driven to create. If I had to put a finger on one characteristic of Israeli identity and cuisine, it would be this: it is a turbine, refusing to stop, pushing forward against all odds.”