When I was growing up, my dad was the one who shopped at the shuk, not my mother, as you might think. He was the unusual husband who was happy to take his wife’s shopping list and then head out to pick up the day’s groceries: glossy baladi eggplant, fragrant bunches of cilantro and parsley, dates, creamy gvina levana, and perhaps more freshly toasted and ground baharat spice mix, which seemed to make its way into so many of my mom’s recipes.
I would often go with my father when he shopped. Shuk HaCarmel in Tel Aviv was not far from our home in the suburbs and was also right near the Yemenite quarter in which my dad spent his childhood. We would do the shopping and then wander into the shuk’s Yemenite quarter, which housed a handful of simple restaurants serving Yemenite classics, the kind of food you’d otherwise find only in a family’s home.
My dad was happy to take on the shopping because he knew he’d be rewarded by my mother’s fantastic cooking (plus he was a nice guy). But he also might have volunteered for the shuk because he could indulge in some of the food he loved best—especially lachuch, a springy, moist Yemenite flatbread that was the one dish from his culture that my mom never mastered.
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