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Which food products available only in Israel are worthy to bring to the US?

  • i

What food products available in Israel but not in the US are worth bringing back? The last discussion on this topic was in 2008, so would love an update. Thanks!

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  1. As we're headed there in about ten days, I'm interested also. I'm not concerned about kosher so maybe I should cross post on the Middle East board. Would you mind?

    2 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      Great! Cross post and please share back here too.

      1. re: iris

        Kokosh cake from Maafiyat Angels? I hope you can still go to Angels in the wee hours of the morning or dead of night and pick up your fresh Kokosh. That's what I brought back on the plane 20 years ago.

    2. Depends. How inferior of a quality product are you looking for, again?

      In general, the cost of shipping something from Israel to America is really, really small. (and good quality follows hte money)

      So, there are relatively few products that are in Israel and not in America -- at least of any quality.

      You'd either be looking for "fresh" (hard to take back, with customs)... or things that fit the Israeli taste and not the American one.

      1. I get the impression from my daughter that here is a gum which is available non-kosher inexpensively here in the states that have a very expensive kosher version that is inexpensive in Israel - I believe that it is Wrigley's 5 gum or something like that.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MartyB

          5 gum is available in kosher supermarkets in the usa

        2. I don't know if this is really a "food product" but I'm pretty sure that there are kosher Altoids available in Israel.

          1. I know what food products are available in Israel because I live in Jerusalem, but since I haven't set foot in a US grocery store in perhaps 25 years, I have no idea what folks can't get in the US.
            I did hear someone on this board daydreaming about kosher Doritos, come to think of it.
            If there are any types of food products you'd like me to look for on my next trip to the supermarket, I will be happy to report back on their availability.
            Also please see my post about fresh tehina on the Middle East & Africa board.

            2 Replies
            1. re: almond tree

              The last time I was in Israel, I think I ate so many bags of those kosher Doritos.....sooo good. Definitely not something I've seen in NYC

              1. re: cheesecake17

                Nice & lightweight to take back in a suitcase too.

            2. The fresh Halvah from the shuk in Jerusalem. The name of the stand is Mamleches HaChalvah and they encourage sampling before you buy!

              2 Replies
              1. re: EllieS

                BUT- be aware that their halvah is fresh and not all preservative-y and if you over buy, it will go bad- um not that ill admit to how much i took home with me last time :-)

                1. re: EllieS

                  Definitely fresh halvah!! There are several good places to get it, but the shuk is probably the easiest and best. Bring small chunks of a few different flavors back as gifts for people--it's something you absolutely cannot find in the US!

                2. Marzipan from the shook, and while you are there as many cheeses as you can fit. How my wife and I have gotten through customs I have no idea. For the holy hassid, a vile of rain water during the month of iyar is pure gold!

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: gotcholent

                    Most cheeses that I'm aware of are fine to bring back. Young, unpasteurized ones are the only ones I'm aware of that are not allowed. Are Israeli ones like that or is there some other issue?

                    1. re: gotcholent

                      i vote for halvah from the shuk and rugalach from marzipan bakery-they are rugalach not made with marzipan-marzipan is the name of the bakery. it is on agrippas street. the cheese place in the shuk bashar is incredible with their selection. photos below

                      1. re: gotcholent

                        I do not know why my previous response was deleted but the rugalach frommarzipan bakery at the shuk on agrippas street-hot out of the oven-omg! I also suggest cheese from bashar cheese guy

                        1. re: koshergourmetmart

                          Did that have the photos? Which were great.

                          1. re: koshergourmetmart

                            I still see your post with the photos, right above your second reply. Problem with the site? (And yes, the photos look great!)

                            1. re: hbg1

                              ah. I see. Photos do not do them justice

                        2. I second the vote for fresh halvah, and will also add that last time I was in Israel (a while ago, admittedly) I saw meat products that aren't available in the US--dried, charcuterie type products, mostly imported from Europe, I believe. Not sure if they are still there, or where to find them, but worth keeping your eyes open!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: DevorahL

                            Meat is a definite no-no in terms of customs, to my knowledge.

                            1. re: queenscook

                              Based on other countries I've visited and looked into, meat that is sealed in tins is generally okay. But I just don't chance it. TSA agents have a ton of latitude in making decisions.

                              1. re: queenscook

                                Correct, no meat, milk, or eggs.


                                "Meat, milk, egg, poultry, and their products, including products made with these materials, such as dried soup mix or bouillon, are either prohibited or restricted from entering the United States, depending on the types of animal diseases which occur in the country of origin. Fresh (chilled or frozen), dried, cured, and fully cooked meat is generally prohibited from most countries."

                                1. re: avitrek

                                  Read further up in the document.
                                  There is a whole list of items that are ok. Israel seems to be a country that has a good reputation with customs based on my last 20+ years of bringing food back from there. I have never tried to bring back meat and the only other item to watch for is don't bring back any herbs/spices in seed form. Basically if the food is processed then it is ok. Although I bring back spices/herbs from the shuk and have no problem. I have also brought in gluten free soup mixes that I could not get in the US . I haven't brought back cheese for a few years but even during the mad cow scare I didn't have problems bringing it into the US.

                                  Something that I have only seen in Israel has been a coconut filled coconut filled chocolate bar by Shmerling which is good. I am not a big fan of coconut and I really like this. I found it at several of the grocery stores in Kiryat Moshe including Cheaper Kol (not the cheapest place). They are kosher for passover.

                                  At Rami Levi I found a tea from I think Wissotzki that had (I think) sage added which was nice, my family liked it. I have also never seen that over here. I only saw it at this store. I'll check if I got this for my mother to verify the information.

                                  Although I don't buy it Israeli expats will tell you to buy krembal's at this time of year (these are definitely not chowhound worthy and I have never eaten one. I cannot try them since they are not gluten free to see why my Israeli friends want them but looking at them I think I would prefer to get my sugar high somewhere else).

                            2. What about condiments? Can you get things like hilbe in the US?
                              There is a nice ... what would you call it .. relish? "salat"? Olivia brand gezer v'limon (carrot & lemon). Comes in a jar so I imagine it'd be ok with customs & it has a very piquant flavor that will bring a bit of the Middle East to Brooklyn, or wherever.

                              1. The item I'd most bring back is Biscoff cookies and spreads. They only make 2 kosher runs a year, and both are sent to Israel for distribution. That stuff is amazing. Not exactly Chowhound worthy, but really, really good.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: ettilou

                                  Biscoff cookies are available in the US (particularly the NY area around Purim), though I haven't yet seen the spreads with certification.

                                  1. re: whitewater

                                    Another vote for the chocolate ruggalach from Marzipan bakery in the shuk. Also, there was a wonderful spice merchant in the shuk. We brought back fantastic loose tea blended with spices. And spice mixtures. The food in Israel is so fantastic. Nothing beats their fruits and vegetables.

                                    1. re: whitewater

                                      Good to know! I've always wanted to try Biscoff!