Yom HaAtzmaut

Yom Ha’atzmaut: The Flavors of Freedom

April 22, 2009
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I wonder what there is about celebrating a national independence day that makes us all want to cook outside! In Israel, grilled and barbecued meats and poultry are as popular for Yom Ha’atzmaut as they are for American Fourth of July menus. It must be that the pleasure of cooking outdoors, enjoying the warmth of summer and the fresh air brings with it a feeling of freedom from day-to-day routines. And for many women who usually do all the cooking at home, it often means liberation from cooking as well, as men are generally happy to take over the task of outdoor grilling!

Grilled food has other advantages that make it popular during the warm months of the year. Obviously cooking outside doesn’t heat up the kitchen. Many meats come out lower in calories when barbecued because the fat drips off the meat as it grills.

Nothing could be more basic than grilling; it was probably the first cooking technique discovered by man. Yet the food turns out festive. It seems that the mere fact of having been cooked in the open air on a grill gives meat, chicken and vegetables special flair. Indeed, grilling has remained the “in” cooking technique not only in the Mideast, but in America and in most of the western world.

Of course, nobody wants to be studiously following recipes and measuring ingredients when grilling out in the park, as Israelis often do for Yom Ha’atzmaut! So prepare the marinades and sauces ahead, and consider these instructions mainly as inspiration. Most of all have fun and savor freedom!

Faye Levy is the author of Healthy Cooking for the Jewish Home (Morrow), 1,000 Jewish Recipes (Wiley) and Jewish Cooking For Dummies (Wiley).