Let's Eat

Ready steady EAT

If you have come abroad to avoid slaving in the kitchen, Nathan Jeffay can teach you a trick or two


It is a reprieve from all that cleaning and preparing for Passover in Britain but it's not quite the full-service hotel experience. How can you make Passover in your holiday home or rental flat without getting tied to the kitchen? If you eat kosher, restaurantsare out of the question for the Seder and other festival meals. But you can book into hotels for Sedarim or for a few meals.

Another option is the local ochel muchan shop. These Hebrew words simply mean "ready food" but they have come to refer to a certain type of shop that, before Shabbat and festivals, puts out tables or chiller units with everything you could want for your family meals, from your chopped-liver starter to chicken soup and roast chicken, roast beef and side dishes.

The typical ochel muchan shop will cater for a wide range of Israeli tastes and ethnic backgrounds. While one customer will want liver as a starter, another will expect Moroccan-style spicy fish. In most shops, you help yourself, putting your selection into plastic containers and then taking it to the counter, to weigh and pay. If you plan to reheat in an oven or on a hotplate, ask if aluminium containers are available instead of plastic.

Many ochel muchan shops produce good home-style cooking - but they can be chaotic, in that quintessentially Israeli way. "You want schnitzel, give me five minutes," they will say - and 20 minutes later you are still waiting. The queue to pay, if you can call it a queue, may require patience.

If you like to get organised early, you can choose a caterer who accepts online orders. One of the market leaders is Naomi Catering, run by an English couple, Naomi and Eric Goldberg. Dishes are delivered anywhere in Israel, in sealed packages which are usually see-through (much of it is packed in containers that can be warmed). Reheating instructions are given for ovens and hotplates. The food straddles the line between the traditional and the gourmet.

You book online, all the food is delivered and you don’t need to talk to anyone

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