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The Road Up to Jerusalem


Jerusalem, Israel


Panoramic view of Jerusalem from The Mount of Olives

On the road from the western coast of Israel up to Jerusalem, olive tree groves dot the landscape.  The stories of the region boast the importance of olives and their role in survival and commerce.  As we trekked up the highway, we learned more about the importance of olives in ancient and modern civilizations.  The food of ancient times in the region was based on locally grown products.  These were known as the “seven species”: olives, figs, dates, pomegranates, wheat, barley and grapes.  The cuisine was also shaped by influences from Asia, Africa and Europe because of east-west trade routes.  Religious and ethnic influences have resulted in a true culinary melting pot in Israel.


I was quite struck by the view of the city from the Mount of Olives.  The panoramic view is monochromatic with Jerusalem stone on every building.  It is punctuated by the Dome of the Rock, glistening gold in the desert sun.   Once inside the city walls, we walked through the Garden of Gethsemane.  The name Gethsemane is derived from a Hebrew word that means “oil press”.

The Garden of Gethsemane

In the garden, there are olive trees that are said to date back to the time of Christ.  The craggy old trees today still give life to new growth and the beautiful black fruit.


At our lunch in Jerusalem, olives and olive oil were part of nearly every dish.  As simple as a plate of salty gems for an appetizer to incorporation in meat dish sauces and salads, olives were highlighted.  My favorite dish of the meal was hummus topped with a few olives and dressed with paprika-infused olive oil.  It was incredibly smooth and almost rich with the olive oil drizzle.  Here is our simple version of Jerusalem hummus.






Hummus with Paprika-Infused Olive Oil




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