Israeli society is surprisingly diverse and our home hospitality hosts include Druze, Christian Arab, Muslim Arab and Orthodox Jewish families. In every case, your hosts will prepare traditional food in their home kitchens and invite you to partake as they explain about their culture.
The Druze people live across the levant are are an offshoot of Islam, breaking off about a thousand years ago. By tradition, Druze meals are eaten whilst seated on the floor. Druze food shares much in common with wider Middle Eastern cuisine and offers dishes such as hummus, labane (a dip made from goats cheese), simply cooked meats, and vegetables cooked in rich tomato sauces.
Orthodox Jewish home hospitality tends to take place on a Friday evening so that you can join the special Sabbath (Shabbat) feast, which from a culinary perspective borrows much from Eastern Europe. You will learn about the dos and don’ts of the Sabbath, and most importantly the philosophy behind the rules.
Israel’s population is around 20% Arab, and within the Arab communities are both Muslims and Christians, each of whom have their own traditions. A meal at either is likely to involve excellent coffee, great food, and insightful conversation about what it is like to be a minority in Jewish Israel.
If you would like to take some Israeli recipes home, please just ask us and we’ll be happy to follow up with your hosts to see what secrets they are prepared to divulge!
Home hospitality in Jordan tends to be at an authentic Bedouin camp. The Bedouin have lived in the deserts of the Middle East for hundreds of years if not more, and their entire lifestyle revolves around adapting to desert survival. Bedouin camps are evident especially through the area of Wadi Rum, and through visiting their homes you will have the opportunity to learn about this way of life, so different from ours. The Bedouin are extremely hospitable and friendly and open to talking about their way of life and values, but before a visit it is important to understand that their camps are extremely basic (there may not be bathroom facilities), and you will be invited to sit on the floor as is customary. Men are not permitted to sit inside the womens’ camp, so couples wil be invited to sit in the mens’ tent. When it comes to the eating part, Bedouin food is cooked in the ground, and in our opinion their bread is pretty much unbeatable!
Our most highly recommended home hospitality experience in Egypt is with the Nubian people who live in the area of Aswan. The Nubians are an ethnic group from Northern Sudan and Southern Egypt who were historically traders of gold and spices and have lived in the area of the Nile for thousands of years. Many were forcefully relocated when the damming of the Nile flooded their ancestral homeland. To understand more about this community and culture you will visit a Nubian village and see how people here live. Unlike most tourist engagements with the Nubian community, we are taking you off the beaten track to the non-touristy side of a Nubian village (not the sanitised ‘Disney’ version most people get). Here you will meet people who live there, see their houses, learn about their infrastructure, tour the village with them, and take a little hike to see some remarkable ancient remains which are truly outliners in terms of the tourist route. You will then enjoy a generous traditional meal in a Nubian home. We recommend taking the opportunity to ask questions about Nubian life and culture, including more probing questions about how Nubian life has changed since the Nile was dammed.
Our dinner tonight proved to be a real genuine experience with Aliza not only a fantastic cook but a warm intelligent woman. My husband and her discovered they both had origins from same town in Italy. It felt like being with friends.
Elena D, London
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