Falafel and Shwarma: Israeli Food in Mexico

Paulette K Schuster

Abstract


Falafel and Shwarma are two iconic national Israeli dishes that are widely recognized and loved in Mexico. They are also the most mentioned by the participants. Kosher stores selling Israeli snack like Bamba, Bisli and Shkedei Marak (soup almonds) have a long-standing tradition in Mexico. However, restaurants serving Israeli food are far less common. In fact, for most of the 1980s and 1990s there were only three establishments, until recently when a new gourmet Israeli cuisine restaurant opened up. So, why is Strauss Israel’s largest food company bothering to invest in Mexico? Why are they marketing a line of Israeli popular items there? In addition to answering these questions. other queries to be explored include: How is Israeli food perceived in Mexico by the Jewish community? How did it go from a simple snack/street food to a gourmet affair? How are they framed and marketed? The main objective is to compare three different groups: Jewish Mexicans in Israel, Israelis in Mexico and Jewish Mexicans who remained in Mexico and how they perceive Israeli food in Mexico and in Israel. In addition to this, how marketing of Israeli food in Mexico has evolved. Twenty interviews will be conducted in Israel in total. Ten will be conducted with Mexican Jews living in Israel and ten will with Israelis who lived in Mexico and who have returned to Israel. To date, eight interviews have been conducted. They will be carried out in various cities in Israel. So far the median age is 45. It seems that for the Israelis eating their national food in Mexico represented an attempt at trying to connect to a symbolic sense of home. For Jewish Mexicans, eating Israeli food was either a way to connect to their future home (those that later immigrated to Israel) or a means to show their solidarity with Israel. Israeli companies investing in Mexico have a vested interest in selling and marketing their authentic wares in Mexico as they seek to gain a foothold in this emerging market.


Keywords


Falafel; Shawarma; Israeli food; Mexico

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