Posted by: Anna | November 13, 2010

Reflections on Israel and Delicious Shakshuka You Can Make at Home

Leaving Israel gave me the feeling that we really are traveling for an extended period of time, since we are now in our fourth or fifth country (depending on how you count). We have met many travelers, laughed, been frustrated, eaten good and bad food. A few of the things that stand out to me from Israel —

  • Mediterranean and Middle Eastern in culture, with a healthy dose of Jewish. Salad for every meal, falafel on every corner, and schnitzel on offer many places.
  • A mixture of kind people helping you when you wouldn’t expect it, and street sellers harassing you at every step (really just in the old city).
  • Beautiful, beautiful weather
  • Amazing natural beauty, with the combination of the beaches on the Mediterranean, the Sea of Galilee, the desert, and the mountains. If we had more time, hiking and camping would be awesome.
  • Tension. I couldn’t be in Israel without reflecting on the inherent tension in the country itself, in its very existence. A question with no answer occupied my thoughts much of the time.
  • I felt overwhelmed by the huge nature of the religious sites, and not just for Christians, although those are most personal to me. Walking where Jesus walked, visiting many churches, each commemorating something so major…the mind cannot comprehend.

A few bits of travel advice, for those of you who want to do this portion of our trip.

  1. I am not a fan of guided trips; however, Israel is a place well-suited to a guide. Not because it is hard to get around – it isn’t. But having a guide to help you understand the significance of all you see would enhance the experience, especially if you are visiting as a sort of religious pilgrim.
  2. Pick the fall or spring season – summer is unbearably hot, and winter is just not the gorgeous weather we had. Something so simple really added to our enjoyment.
  3. Plan on spending two weeks. We needed breaks from the sites in order to have time to process what we had seen. Spending some time in a beautiful place, on the beach, or in the mountains, allowed me to more fully appreciate each day.

We traditionally write haiku to commemorate each country we visit, summing up our feelings…

To walk with Jesus

See the Bible come alive

Stations of the Cross


Lifted by the weight

Of Christ’ tomb. Then the Dead Sea

Splish, Splash, I’m weightless


Creepy feral cats

Hiding inside the dumpster

Waiting for a meal

(Bonus haiku from Tommy – Israel has wild cats everywhere)

This time, we thought we’d treat you to a reader-participation thing. We loved the food in is soooooo good. But of all the delicious foods we ate, shakshuka is the one that I most want to make at home. And so I thought you would too. Here’s a recipe – make it for yourself and see if it isn’t a great brunch addition – cheap, delicious, vegetarian, healthy, and oh, delicious. Please, PLEASE make it at home, and send us pictures….I think it would make my day if you did! If we get enough pictures, and have enough technology skills, maybe we will share them all.

Shakshuka [Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce]

Adapted from Saveur

Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup olive oil

5 Anaheim chiles or 3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (I
was nervous and only used 2 Anaheims; I would go for 3 or 4 next time
for a more moderate but still gentle kick)

1 small yellow onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained

Kosher salt, to taste

6 eggs

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Warm pitas, for serving

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add chiles and
onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown,
about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring
frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your
hands. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2
cup water, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally,
until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

Crack eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across
sauce’s surface. Cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5
minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato
mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with
feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.


You can’t tell me you aren’t going to make this all the time…



  1. Shakshuka on the menu;Feta will be hard to hide;photos a long shot.

  2. Delish! And Terry went back for seconds!
    Now how to send photos?!

  3. You should try nutmeg in your lasagna.

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