A New Passion for Palestinian Cuisine
“When I opened Magdalena, a lot of people said to me, ‘What are you doing? You are an Arab. You need to protect the authenticity of our cuisine,’” said Yousef Hanna, Magdalena’s owner and chef, the next morning as we sipped espresso on the restaurant’s back patio. In daylight, Magdalena’s location, which offers sweeping views of lush Mount Arbel and the Sea of Galilee, makes much more sense. “But I told them, ‘It’s not a mistake, it’s an upgrade.’”
Mr. Hanna opened Magdalena in 2013, after starting three successful but conventional Arabic restaurants, where the long-held traditions of a dozen salads to begin the meal and simple grilled meats were menu mainstays. At Magdalena, he has thrown that rule book out the window, reaching instead for the childhood recipes he remembers his mother sourcing from their home garden and pairing them with techniques he picked up from Jewish chefs in cosmopolitan Tel Aviv.
His food is elevated, but it is also grounded in history. “This is the idea of my restaurant — to take the roots of Galilee cuisine, and bring them to the new world of cooking,” he said.
From “A New Passion for Palestinian Cuisine” by Debra Kamin for the New York Times, 2016; Photo by Uriel Sinai
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