Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fun With Food in Jerusalem: Nightly Flipping Ceremony in Eucalyptus Restaurant Courtyard


Moshe Basson, chef and owner of the popular Eucalyptus restaurant in the artist colony near the gates of the old city of Jerusalem, has been called a food historian and culinary story teller. But he's also a showman, and almost any night you dine there, you will witness and maybe even participate in Eucalyptus' ma'aluba flipping ceremony, which many tourists have captured on video.

Basson, cheerful and confident in his chef's outfit, with braided hair trailing behind, emerges from the kitchen carrying a large tray laden with his signature dish, ma'aluba. to the accompaniment of waiters banging copper trays and pot covers with sticks. It's a real production, in the courtyard outside the restaurant, and diners are encouraged to leave their tables to watch it. 

Basson selects one of the lucky diners to wear his chef's apron and instructs him or her in the ceremony: Seven wide waves around the circumference of the huge pot followed by a brief meditation, and with great fanfare and deliberation lifting the upside-down pot to reveal the dish on its serving tray. As cameras click, everyone oohs and ahhs at the tower of rice with embedded chicken and vegetables. Everyone gets a taste.

On one of our trips to Israel last year we were lucky to get the job of flipping the ma'aluba (photo above), which appears on the menu as NaHafouch-Hou, literally turned upside down, a reference to the events of the Purim story.

The restaurant's menu focuses on foods indigenous to the land of Israel, and includes Jacob and Esau's Biblical Red Lentil Stew and Biblical Couscous From the Days of King Solomon.

If you want to try this recipe and make your own ma'alubah, click this link to a website where Karen Selwyn posts it with ingredients, detailed instructions, and traces it to a demonstration that Moshe Basson presented at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The video below is one of many on YouTube showing a typical ma'aluba ceremony. Enjoy!

(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS:  THE VIDEO IS NOT VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY.  YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)