In the last few years the Mahane Yehuda Market has seen some major changes. If you really want to feel the Jerusalem vibe, the market – or ‘the shuk’ as it is known in Hebrew, is the place to be. Personally, I love the shuk; the vibrant energy, colors, scents, tremendous diversity and most importantly, the people - who make it the best marketplace in Israel. Like most shuk fans, I also have my favorite shops and restaurants including: Azura, Baher's Fromagerrie, Haim Piro, Morris, Mousseline (the new ice cream parlor), Burekas Ramleh and others.
The marketplace has recently undergone several renovations, and upgrades. Following these renovations, which made the market very accessible and clean, the shuk has now officially transformed into a “hang out” and not only a place to shop for food.
By the way, Mahane Yehuda is not the original name of this marketplace, but rather of the neighborhood opposite it which was established in 1887. Over the course of time the name came to include the marketplace as well.
This time round I was off to visit one of the oldest delis in Jerusalem and probably in Israel as well. Starting off as a family butcher shop in 1923, today the Hai Boneh Delicatessen offers a wide range of deli products in a warm and homey atmosphere. David Boneh, grandson of the original founder, currently manages the shop, representing nine generations of a family who came to Israel sometime in the 18th century and has been in the meat business ever since. In fact Boneh's great great grandfather was one of the biggest cattle importers during the Ottoman period.
Back to the 21st century - situated on the main drag of the market, Hai Boneh offers both basic and gourmet products at prices accessible by all. The prices are not particularly low, but Boneh's approach of not compromising on the quality of the products and only bringing the best products from each manufacturer has proven itself over the years.
Boneh sells deli products by weight, including a wide selection of cold cuts and smoked meats, homemade salads including Yemenite tzchug, excellent piquant green tahina and hilbeh, an assortment of pickled vegetables, freshly squeezed juice, frozen foods and even hot/cold deli sandwiches offering the opportunity to sample the salads and cold cuts before taking some for the road.
Boneh also mentioned that in the next week or so, he will be adding a gluten free section to the deli, where people with celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities will be able to find an assortment of tasty, frozen gluten free products.
Boneh explains the magic of this family deli: ‘there are people who shop for delicacies. At Hai Boneh our delicacies acquire our customers.’
Hai Boneh Delicatessan
17 Mahne Yehuda, Jerusalem