Debrah Marcus was born in Cape Town, South Africa, where she attended Herzlia Jewish Day School. She graduated with a BA in Languages from the University of Cape Town, holds a Post Grad Diploma in Translation from Beit Berl College, as well as an MA in Information Science from Bar Ilan University.
Debrah has been living in Israel since the previous century!
She worked for many years as an Information Specialist in various industries and for over 11 years as the Chief Knowledge Officer at a large international accounting firm.
Currently she is a solo-preneur – combining language and culture: Debrah teaches corporate English; translates from Hebrew into English; assists Israelis to prepare for presentations and speeches in English; does cross cultural communication training; and of course Tel Aviv FOOD. She has just started working on a follow-up, which will be similar but different, with a twist ….
Debrah loves entertaining, zumba, reading, spending time with friends, walking on the beach, and in general enjoying what Tel Aviv has to offer.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa and arrived in Israel knowing how to make an omelette, a tuna salad and a wicked cup of tea! I learned to cook here, out of necessity. Although I arrived here with numerous “must have” cookery books, none of them was relevant to cooking in Israel – neither the quantities nor the preparation times required.
When did your passion for cooking begin?
My passion is actually for entertaining! Cooking is simply a means to an end. There is nothing nicer than arranging the table, inviting a few friends and serving simple but delicious fare.
Of course, Tel Aviv has an amazing array of restaurants, but most limit you time-wise, so even though you are supposedly relaxed and being served, the clock is always ticking. At home, there’s no pressure, conversation flows, and seconds (and thirds) are discretely available in the kitchen.
Since arriving in Tel Aviv, I’ve worked, studied, entertained endless visitors, made time for the theatre, concerts, opera, jazz, museums, galleries, walking, zumba, done the shopping, the cleaning, looked for parking, enjoyed spending time with friends, etc. Squeezing everything into 24 hours has always been pretty challenging, but then that’s typically Tel Aviv! So, as I love entertaining, I’ve had to develop a way of cooking which ensures delicious food, but which doesn’t require long preparation or cooking times. That also means that all ingredients are from the local supermarket, as I certainly don’t have time to traipse across town looking for that one special ingredient.
What inspired you to write Tel Aviv Food?
I’ve always loved entertaining, and having lived in Tel Aviv for quite some time, have seen it transform from an ugly, dirty collection of run- down buildings, into this amazing city which never stops. Israel is an amazingly vibrant place, but Tel Aviv is literally Israel on “fast forward”. I’ve always loved showing this crazy city to guests, and when I found myself suddenly redundant, I decided to combine my two loves into one book.
Well actually, it all started when I then needed to buy my own laptop and started playing around to get to know all the features. I had an old wooden recipe box filled with stained cards, things I’d cut out of magazines, recipes that my mom had written out, endless notes and concoctions that I had put together. So I decided to put all these recipes onto my laptop – to computerise the box! After a while, I realised that I had an amazing collection of my own recipes. It sort of snowballed from there….
How long did it take you to write your cookbook?
Approximately 3 years. Apart from recipes, the book also contains amazing photos of Tel Aviv, numerous anecdotes, along with hints and tips.
What did you enjoy most about writing your cookbook?
The creative aspects … taking an idea and developing it. The book combines different aspects of Tel Aviv with different courses. All rather subjective, but definitely reflecting the aspects that I love about the city.
There are many recipes in your book, which one is your favourite
Actually love each and every one of them, but I guess the tuna lasagne would be my favourite. It doesn’t matter how many times I make it, it’s always just so delicious.
How did you decide which recipes to include?
If it wasn’t (a) delicious, (b) quick and (c) easy, it wasn’t included.
Are there any ingredients you are particularly excited about?
I love using really fresh ingredients and only buy what is in season.
Which dish would you recommend to someone who has never tried Israeli cuisine before?
Israelis love salads, and no meal is complete without a variety of salads, literally! Breakfast, lunch or dinner, salads play a huge part. The typical Israeli salad starts off with a cucumber, tomato and red or green bell pepper. In the old days, the idea was to make something out of nothing – so the chopping became an art. Some like their salad roughly chopped, others prefer it diced as small as possible. To this basic combination, add onion, radish, avocado, cilantro or parsley. Dress with a splash of olive oil, a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a dash of salt or garlic salt. Every Israeli has “their own” special version of this salad and each is proudly pronounced as being “the best”!
Where can we find your cookbook? Am in the process of setting up an online purchasing option. In Israel, it’s available at select bookshops and museums or directly from me. Am currently able to accept credit card orders worldwide, if you contact me directly.