He has conquered the stages of the world, she the local markets, says Haya Molcho about her husband. Born in Israel, she has been married to Samy Molcho since 1978. He was famous for his pantomime performances, his books on body language were bestsellers. Together they toured around the world, through Asia, Africa and South America. Long before global food trends were talked about, Haya Molcho got to know new flavors, flavors and products on the way. But it was not until 2009 that she opened her first restaurant in Vienna – and became the ambassador of the Levant cuisine, in which Lebanon, Syria,
Palestine, Jordan and Egypt meet.
ZEITmagazin Online: Ms. Molcho, in her cookbook Tel Aviv – Food. People. Stories., Which you edited together with your sons, there is no recipe for hummus. Is not that as if there's no pizza in an Italian cookbook?
Haya Molcho: It
Already have too many cookbooks with hummus recipes. One more thing
Nobody really needs it. By the way, making good hummus means three
Days work: The chickpeas have to soak overnight and on
Simmer for eight hours the following day, stirring constantly. Only 24 hours later you should process them. For that has
no more time.
ZEITmagazin Online: So?
There are good hummus to buy today. Take it as a base for
Vegetables, meat and spices. We want the readers with our book
Show that he is not just a spread, but one
Basis to build on – with chicken liver, grilled
Spring onions and something balsamic about, a dream!
ZEITmagazin Online: The Israeli cuisine, which has also made you popular in Europe, is a hybrid. The influences come from all over the world. Does she even have her own identity?
Molcho: Our Levante kitchen was created on the threshold of Orient and Occident. Its core area lies between Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Egypt. But the references are as global as they are personal, almost sentimental.
ZEITmagazin Online: What do you mean?
The cook and restaurateur Haya Molcho was born in Tel Aviv in 1955. At the age of ten she moved to Bremen with her family. In 1978 she married the then world-famous pantomime Samy Molcho. In 2009, Haya Molcho, together with two of her sons, opened the Neni restaurant in Vienna. Today the family runs a restaurant in Tel Aviv, a cooking school and franchise restaurants in Zurich, Berlin and Hamburg.
Molcho: When I was born in Tel Aviv in 1955, the different ethnic groups in Israel were still very segregated. The second generation then began to marry each other. I am of Romanian descent, my husband is Spanish. So did the different kitchens. One could describe Israeli cuisine as the marriage of many cultures.
ZEITmagazin Online: Yotam Ottolenghi dedicated his very own Jerusalem cookbook to his hometown. How is the kitchen of Tel Aviv different? Both cities are only an hour away by car.
Molcho: The difference is enormous. Like the one between New York and Texas. Tel Aviv is modern, young and neurotic. There is a flamboyant queer scene, art, fashion and music. Jerusalem is Orthodox, traditional and quiet.
ZEITmagazin Online: How is this reflected in the kitchen?
Molcho: Jerusalem is all about heritage. The traditional recipes are not varied.
ZEITmagazin Online: For a long time, it was a sacrilege in Italy to change the old recipes. Was it difficult for you to emancipate yourself from tradition in Israel?
Molcho: That's how it is today. The Orthodox in Israel do not like Tel Aviv, they are critical of the liberation. This also applies to the kitchen. But we will not let that happen.
The better sandwich: For this simmer, Haya Molcho takes home baked focaccia with fresh tomatoes, fried aubergines and boiled eggs. The court is originally from an immigrant from Iraq snack takers in Tel Aviv.
© Nuriel Molcho / Brandstätter Verlag ZEITmagazin Online: Even cooking seems to be political in Israel.
Molcho: Yes, sure! But Israel and Palestine have long been a country in the kitchen.
ZEITmagazin Online: Do you still remember the taste of your childhood?
Molcho: Very good. However, we moved to Bremen when I was ten years old. There they thought we came from Mars. There were no Turks, no Yugoslavs. We were the only monkeys.
ZEITmagazin Online: Monkeys?
Molcho: Yeah, that's how I felt, always staring, like in the zoo. Of course, my mother cooked Israeli. This smell and taste is unforgettable until today. That was the connection to the homeland, to our roots. We often had visitors from the home. Then food was brought from Israel: good tomatoes, these small, crisp cucumbers, Tahina, watermelons, that did not exist in Germany.
ZEITmagazin Online: Your guests brought watermelons in their luggage to Germany?
Molcho: Yes! Big things. Luckily. I never liked the North German Klopseküche. We have enforced the Israeli cuisine of Romanian origin in Bremen.
Samy was my home. He has conquered the stages of the world, I the local markets.
Haya MolchoZEITmagazin Online: How was it for your family to go from Israel to Germany in the sixties, to the country of the perpetrators?
Molcho: My parents have witnessed the Holocaust in Romania. They emigrated to Israel in 1950. Nevertheless, they have taught us children: Stay open, not all people in this country are evil.
ZEITmagazin Online: Your later husband Samy Molcho celebrated worldwide success as a pantomime and author in the seventies and eighties. They had been touring with him for seven years, long before the easyjetset. Did not you feel lonely on the way?
Molcho: Samy was my home. He has conquered the stages of the world, I the local markets. After all, I could not admire my husband for seven years. That's why my passion for all things culinary.
ZEITmagazin Online: Only decades later, in 2009, you opened your first restaurant Neni at the Viennese Naschmarkt, meanwhile there are branches in Hamburg, Berlin, Munich and Zurich. Where did the impulse and the courage to suddenly become an entrepreneur come from?
Molcho: I had organized big parties for some over 300 people before. For Samy's birthday, I rented a run-down barn and designed a Baroque-style celebration there. At that time, the zeitgeist was minimal in white and gray tones, with beautiful candles and place cards. I had whole lambs roast over an open fire. Soon it was said, if you want something special, then ask the Haya. Today I run the business with three of my four sons. It would not work without her.
Haya Molcho with her sons Elior, Nuriel, Nadiv and Ilan (left to right) on a rooftop terrace in Tel Aviv
© Nuriel Molcho / Brandstätter Verlag ZEITmagazin Online: Why is the Levante kitchen so popular right now, why did it become a global trend?
Molcho: She is healthy.
ZEITmagazin Online: Why else?
Molcho: More and more people are traveling to the region. They eat there and they like it. At home, they have a longing for it. On the other hand, it is a kitchen that you enjoy together. Whole families come to our restaurants. People have a new desire for fellowship. They do not want to sit alone in front of the computer and eat frozen pizza. That's exactly what the Levant culture stands for.
ZEITmagazin Online: Your kitchen is a social cuisine?
Molcho: Yes, in Vienna that was a sensation back then. We had no idea if people would accept that. They had to make contact with each other at the table, for example, to take silverware or pour water from a carafe. But they did it. We have already completely strangers in our restaurant verkuppelt who later married. More social is not possible.
Tel Aviv – Food. People. Stories. has been published by Brandstätter-Verlag. The following recipe is an excerpt from it.