In hotels all over the world you can generally order a Continental Breakfast, an American Breakfast or a Full English Breakfast, but only in Israel can you order an Israeli Breakfast! What is so unique about this Israeli morning tradition and where does it come from?
Since before 1948, Israel has been largely dependent on its own agriculture to feed its people. The kibbutzim – the collective farms set up in the 20th century – prioritized crops that could support the growing local population. Refrigeration was not always possible, so everything had to be grown, served and eaten quickly in this fast-developing society!
Tomatoes and cucumbers, white cheeses and simple white sliced breads were the first foods prepared every morning in the kibbutz kitchens. Typically, workers and volunteers went out into the fields before dawn and returned to eat breakfast when the sun was too hot for them to work outside. (Even today, in schools and in the most urban environments, Israelis will often eat their breakfast sandwich at 10am or later!)
The kibbutz breakfast was based on the produce that was grown locally, including freshly squeezed orange juice and pickled olives from the orchards, eggs from the chicken run, and different varieties of white cheese made from milk from the kibbutz dairy. The ubiquitous Israeli salad of chopped tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, often supplemented with chopped onion, parsley, olive oil and lemon juice, became a quick and easy staple not just at breakfast but at every meal.
Even today, Israeli cuisine is dominated by produce that is grown locally all year around, meaning that many fruits are only available in season. The excitement that Israelis express when they find cherries, apricots, watermelon, grapes or strawberries on their tables is evidence of the seasonal nature of Israeli agriculture. Even many of Israel’s most famous exports, such as oranges and avocados, are only available in Israel for a few months of the year.
Today’s Israeli hotel breakfasts are generally way more lavish than the kibbutz version. Adapting to the international tastes of visiting tourists and to the broader scope of Israeli cuisine, you may find many varieties of cooked eggs, pancakes and waffles, fancy breads and cereals. Israelis also have a more sophisticated taste in coffee today – you will find many modern variations on the thick black Turkish coffee that was always provided for the workers and volunteers on kibbutz.
Breakfast in Israel is still the most important meal of the day. Guests can take full advantage and return to the buffet table many times to fill their plates. If you are heading out for a busy day of touring, a good Israeli breakfast will keep you well fueled until the evening meal!
To find out more about the development of Israel’s food traditions and international melting-pot cuisine, talk to Shatour about arranging one of our Israel Culinary Tours – we promise you a fascinating and delicious experience!