While it shares themes of cross-cultural influences, Roger M. Sherman’s In Search of Israeli Cuisine stands out from other food documentaries in recent years such as Deli Man, The Search for General Tso, and Kampai! For the Love of Sake. Whereas those were about the modern incarnations of culinary traditions that span centuries, if not millennia, a recurring theme in Israeli Cuisine is that “Israeli cuisine” wasn’t even a thing a century ago — because Israel itself wasn’t yet a thing. In fact, the cuisine only came into its own over the last two decades. Chef Michael Solomonov, who was born in Israel and raised in Pittsburgh, travels around the country of his birth interviewing other chefs and restaurant owners, sampling their wares, and exploring how immigrants from the dozens of countries that make up modern Israel create a new food culture, one so new as to be indefinable. (As is pointed out, nobody’s quite sure exactly what American food is yet, and we’ve managed to exist for two and a half centuries.) Since there are many stories left to tell, In Search of Israeli Cuisine could well be a pilot for a Food Channel series, and the personable Solomonov is like Anthony Bourdain without the self-conscious machismo, which makes Solomonov a far more appetizing guide.
In Search of Israeli Cuisine
Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza Cinema.