New to VOD this week:
IN SEARCH OF ISRAELI CUISINE
Palm Springs 2016
Jewish fests in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Miami, Palm Beach, Atlanta, Seattle, and Toronto
A James Beard Award-winning chef takes viewers on a tour through the tastes of Israel.
As noted by the film’s title, chef Michael Solomonov, born in Israel and raised in Pennsylvania, embarks on the prickly question of whether his relatively young homeland can truly be said to have its own cuisine. Some of his interview subjects emphatically argue that of course it does, while others are more dismissive, noting that in a country formed by immigrants from around the world, Israel’s food culture is more of an extensive borrowing. This debate, and the complicated history it reveals, is the most interesting element of Sherman’s film, which otherwise wouldn’t be too out of place if it were on the Food Network. Solomonov is a nice enough but fairly bland host, and while his visits with various chefs, cooks, winemakers, and the like offer a nice amount of exotic food porn to viewers, this survey just isn’t distinctive enough to be memorable when compared with more pointed comments from, for example, a Palestinian chef who reveals the difficulty in attracting Jewish clientele or who bitterly notes how Israel’s staple dish, hummus, is an appropriation of a Palestinian mainstay.