So, you are on your last day of your trip to Israel and suddenly the question appears what souvenirs or gifts should you buy for your friends, your family members, or colleagues?
I can assure you that this question will pop up even if you’ve been hundreds of times to Israel and each time there will be some expectations to bring home a bit of Middle Eastern atmosphere.
With years of experience and more family visits abroad then I can count, I believe that I have now developed a good list of presents that will always make anyone happy.
The good thing is that they are interchangeable and you can buy them all in one place in less than an hour.
Here is my recommended gift list from Tel Aviv’s Carmel market:
1. Medjoul Dates
Vegan, healthy and delicious! You can eat it, you can cook it, you can bake it.
Za’atar for salad, or any selection of rice spices will be a great hit abroad.
3. Olive oil
Olive trees, olive oil, it’s very symbolic, when you’re in the Holy Land, but mainly healthy and delicious.
Pickled, dried, salty, stuffed with garlic or hot pepper, comes in all sizes, there is a great selection of olives you can buy (and taste while you’re at it).
Now we have heard about Tahini, this is nothing new. But let’s get into the detail here. The Tahini of this specific brand (called Har Bracha) is made in the Samaritan village in the West Bank, next to the sacred Mount Gerizim. Trust me on this one, you have never had a good Tahini until you tasted this.
Made out of sesame seeds, Halwa remains to be a big hit locally and as a souvenir. And it’s healthy! The many variations and flavors available now include anything from natural and vanilla taste to really spicy and even diet versions of this delicious dessert.
Baklawa moves us away from the healthy gifts, yet a box full of different types of sweets will be an awesome present for any group of friends or colleagues.
8. Turkish Coffee
It kind of sounds funny that I’d recommend to take Turkish coffee as an authentic Israeli gift but this is reality. If your friends are Israelis abroad they will praise you for months — well until the pack finishes. You can upgrade this gift by getting some extra coffee spices like Hawaij or the less common, but super delicious Yemenite white coffee.
9. Chocolate Elite
Also called by Israelis Elite Chocolate, after the manufacturing company’s brand, or The “Cow” Chocolate, after the brand’s logo on the wrapping paper, these bars are real Israeli classics. The basic milk chocolate version is the oldest, but you can find now over twenty different types of cow chocolates, my favorite being the one with pop rocks! Great gift for children.
10. Bamba and other Israeli snacks
Since 1964, Bamba is still one of the leading snack food products sold in Israel. It’s made from peanut butter (flavored) puffed maize. Along with Bisli (another popular snack) and the Cow Chocolate, it makes a great snacks & sweets souvenir from Israel.
11. Israeli beer
If you are looking for a special gift, the Beer Bazar offers a gift box, a selection of six bottles of Israeli craft beer. My recommendations are: Fat Cat, Your Auntie, Bazelet, Shapira but, hey, it’s much better if you just sit down and try for yourself.
12. Israel flagged marshmellows!
Well, I don’t really want to comment on this one, they just look fun 🙂
13. Hamsa cake form
The Hamsa depicts an open hand, it’s believed to be a sign of protection against the evil eye. You will probably notice the many variations of the Hamsa gifts at the entrance of the market. Using it as a silicon cake form is something of recent years and I think it’s just cute.
Maybe you asked yourself why 13? It’s an unlucky number. Let me point out three facts. One, that in mathematics, 13 is a joyous happy number. Do I know what it means? Nope. But it sounds entertaining. Two, The Italians consider it to be a lucky number. Three, I made sure to put the Hamsa for the 13th, let’s see which force wins.
That’s all folks!
All photos © Gabi Berger | myisraelimemories.com
Gabi Berger is a Tel Aviv based photographer, specializing in travel and lifestyle photography. She’s a founder of www.myisraelimemories.com. My Israeli Memories offers mobile photography workshops and tours in Tel Aviv.