Eating pork in Israel

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LISA MULLINS: Of course, eating pork is a matter of personal preference. And in the Middle East, pork is a matter of religious observance as well.

ELI LANDAU: Pork is a very special issue in Israel. Not only for the Jews, but Muslims as well.

MULLINS: That is Dr. Eli Landau. He is the author of a pork cookbook. It's called The White Book, which was recently published in Israel. It's the first such book in the country. Dr. Landau says that, despite religious prohibitions on eating pork, and what he calls a negative energy surrounding it, more Israelis are consuming �other white meat.�

LANDAU: In recent years, a chain of big supermarkets started to appear in this country. And they sell pork. So gradually pork is available all over the country. There is a market and there is a demand and restaurants are flourishing.

MULLINS: But what has the reaction been to the cookbook?

LANDAU: It was much nicer than I expected. [OVERLAPPING]

MULLINS: You expected to have a hard time.

LANDAU: I expected nasty letters and emails and I didn't get, a little yes, but very few. And what I didn't expect is that the religious Jews and the religious Muslims, they don't care. They couldn't care less. They don't read these books. And the population who do eat pork, they accepted it. It is not, of course, a best seller. We are talking about a cookbook only deals with pork. But in spite of that, it is selling alright.

MULLINS: What are some of the recipes for pork that you have in there?

LANDAU: The recipes I like most are, since I stayed in Italy for six years, the love for pasta dish is part of my DNA. So I think the pasta dishes in the book are my favorites.

MULLINS: I just want to close out with a story of how you came to eat pork for the first time 60-something years ago.

LANDAU: The story goes back to the Second World War. My mother was 30 years old approximately and she was in the ghetto. And there was a little boy there. By chance she took care of him. They lived in the ghetto for four years. After that they were taken to extermination camp and they both survived. And he [INDISCERNIBLE] after her. He came to look for this lady who actually took care of him, maybe saved his life. And he found that this lady has a baby of her own. And the [INDISCERNIBLE] hard, difficult. And he thought this baby doesn't get enough to eat. So they day after, he came back and he brought with him a piece of ham and he said to my mother, this meat saved my life when you left. And the point is that he's religious. He comes from a religious family. He's still around. He's 80 years old and he's still a religious butcher. He doesn't touch pork, but during the war he, of course, he had some. And the first thing he did when he came to Israel, he brought it to me. He kept on sending me ham for many years. Nobody told me that this is pork. I was a boy already and I knew that we are not allowed, we shouldn't eat it. And my mother didn't eat it and she gave me this pork maybe under the influence of this butcher's [INDISCERNIBLE].

MULLINS: No wonder you have such an affinity for pork.

LANDAU: Yes. I think it was tattooed in my palette, I think the taste of it. And maybe that's why I look for it and eventually wrote about it.

MULLINS: Dr. Eli Landau is the author of a new pork cookbook called The White Book. Very nice to talk to you.

LANDAU: Thank you.

MULLINS: Dr. Landau was talking to us from the [INDISCERNIBLE] restaurant in Jaffa, Israel. That's where the chef has featured on the menu pork dishes from Dr. Landau's book.