I take them all back - all those cruel comments about poor Israeli food.
After all, I came to Israel from Manchester – one of the U.K.’s largest cities – which despite its size and its plethora of exotic eateries - does not have enough genuine, well-run vegetarian outlets to count even on the fingers of one hand.
On the other, I now live in Karmiel - barely 12 miles from Amirim, the vegetarian holiday retreat so near Lake Kinneret (‘The Sea of Galilee’) - that on an evening like that on which we visited, it seems near enough for visitors to reach out and dabble their toes in the water!
But we had gone to taste the food while we savoured the magical scenery and hit on Dalia’s, which is on the main street and is also the oldest restaurant in the village and where diners may sit on her balcony to gaze themselves palpably drunk on the view.
Lydia Aisenberg, a journalist and British immigrant to Israel of long-standing explains that Dalia Cohen, now in her 70s and her late husband, Amiad, who had been a ‘from birth’ vegetarian, came to Amirim in the Upper Galilee from Kibbutz Mishmar David in central Israel.
Dalia, a former nutritionist and home economist, told her that they “were pacifists and vegetarians with a very definite idea of what we did and didn't want." But despite her original profession, she insists that her lifestyle is based on humanitarianism before health.
She opened her restaurant about 25 years ago and describes her cooking as "simple and tasty” – no surprise as most of her four children and 10 grandchildren live nearby.
After all, when they visit Mum and Gran, they want homey, unpretentious, well-cooked food – served with loving warmth – and in vast quantities!