Friday, May 06, 2005

Machane Yehuda

Machane Yehuda - Jerusalem's famous Souk or market, is one of my favourite places to shop - particularly on a Friday morning. In the days when I lived in Rechavia, my flat mate and I would set out with empty backpacks and fill them with the freshest, cheapest fruit and vegetables that the place had to offer.

I started off my visit with a ritual which stems from those days; purchasing a bag of ten, still warm, freshly baked pittot from the stall about 2/3 of the way towards Rechov Yaffa for the princely sum of NIS 4. As always, I succumbed to temptation, opening the bag and munching my prize as I wandered from stall to stall, sampling olives and melon, buying a mediterranean mix of tomatos on the vine, onions, peppers and eggplant, alien looking kolrabi, cabbage, avocado and lemons. The sensual experiences of the souk are those that make me love the place; the touching and smelling of the produce, choosing each individual piece, the noise of the vendors as they assure you of the quality of their goods, the incredibly vibrant feel of the place.

A bustling covered Souk Posted by Hello

I wandered down to David Dagim (covered souk, 1st left from the Agrippas end) - the best place to buy fish for sushi that I know of in Jerusalem. As I bought fresh salmon I assured an American yeshiva bocher that this place had a deserved reputation. I departed with my fish, which will be combined with the fresh vegetables, rice and seaweed tomorrow!

Jerusalemites have been buying their Humus from Tzidkiyahu for decades; his counter is filled with olives and stuffed grape leafs, pickled fish, kuba and any matter of salads - Humus, eggplant, techina and the like. His store is typical of the souk - a family run business which is as much a part of the fabric of Jerusalem as the Kottel. In the age of soulless supermarkets, the souk is a throw back to times when you knew your shopkeeper by name and went back to him week in week out.

Ma'adanei Tzidkiyahu Posted by Hello

The atmosphere of the souk will continue to draw people in - and it doesn't hurt that it's still the cheapest place to shop.

Shabbat Shalom



superpharm said...

And we have to make do with one or two local kosher 'delis'who sell expensive pre-packed humous.

The Hedyot said...

I just came back from the shuk 30 minutes ago. Nothing makes me feel Jerusalem like the shuk! I wonder if we crossed paths... (I was the guy in the t-shirt with all the bags...)

The Hedyot said...

I just came back from the shuk 30 minutes ago. Nothing makes me feel Jerusalem like the shuk! The sights, the smells, the sounds, the people, (the prices)...

I wonder if we crossed paths. (I was the guy in the t-shirt with all the bags...)

celestial blue said...

My favourite part of Israel... going to the shuk. *sigh* I can't get enough of it. The atmosphere.. the people... the fresh food... the feeling of community. Just seeing these pictures makes my heart ache to be in israel..

Leah said...


What a great post! Machaneh Yeduah was part of my weekly pre-shabbat ritual when I lived in Israel. I too was one of the many buying hummus from the same place and I had many favorite vendors. I miss the souk a great deal and the sense of hustle, community and "mishpocha" that I felt there.
I have a funny story about the last time I shopped in the souk. We entered off of Jaffo and as we were passing by a fishmonger, one of the fish flopped out of his case and proceeded down the isle. The owner took one look at the customer in front of him and said in Hebrew "he must have taken one look at you and knew he needed to flee!" We burst out laughing and it was a funny way to set the mood for that day's shopping experience.
Like Cellestial Blue, I miss so many things about Israel, the souk being one of them.
Thanks for letting me walk with you down memory lane.

indie jew said...

oh wow... you just made me miss israel so much.

Jack's Shack said...

Let me join the club, I do miss Machane Yehuda. The smells are still with me.

Safiyyah said...

Love the detailed description: makes my mouth water;-) We have a few markets in Toronto that I absolutely adore, but they're nothing like the souk you describe.

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