Two London-based chefs with roots in Jerusalem one day. The next, poster boys for peace.
Such has been the reaction to “Jerusalem,” a bestselling cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli, and Sami Tamimi, a Palestinian, built on their memories of a shared city and its delicious food.
“Regardless of all the trouble, food is always there,” Tamimi said.
The men run gourmet delis and restaurants in London and have written an earlier cookbook together. They were known not for politics, but for saving some chic London neighborhoods from culinary boredom with Mediterranean-based recipes infused with fresh, exotic flavors.
That changed with the publication of “Jerusalem,” as observers took note of their unusual partnership.
An Anglican minister used the chefs as an example of interfaith dialogue in a commentary on the BBC’s influential Today program. The New Yorker piled on with a profile titled “The Philosopher Chef.” Britain’s Daily Telegraph featured the partners on its news pages — no recipes attached.
Suddenly it wasn’t just about how much garlic goes into hummus. It was about them.
“We’ve been very successful at attracting (attention),” Ottolenghi said. “We didn’t go out there declaring a political stance. All we did is say, this is the food that we like.”
The book contains a mixture of Palestinian and Jewish food, and the authors occasionally discuss what bothers them about their hometown, with its largely Jewish west and predominantly Arab east.