Tablet Magazine
Israel Story

Soul Food

While we won’t be sampling fried okra, collard greens, or macaroni and cheese, our 70th episode introduces us to two women for whom soul and food are completely intertwined

October 25, 2021
Tablet Magazine

While “soul food” has come to mean a specific type of cuisine, for the women we encounter in today’s episode, there is no soul without food. Food has accompanied them through marriages and divorces, it has been with them as they crossed oceans and continents, it has comforted them in times of pain and anchored them in moments of joy.

In the prologue, “Sol Food,” host Mishy Harman joins his 18-month-old niece, Sol, for dinner. He tries, with partial success, to find out what her favorite food is.

Act I: “Seoul Food.” If there’s one thing Bung-Ja Ziporah Kim Rothkopf loves to discuss, it’s food. “I can leave my land,” she says, “I can leave my family. But I could never leave my food.” It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that she is the owner of KOKO and Seoul House—a kosher Korean restaurant in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. But what senior producer Yochai Maital initially thought would be a sweet and curious culinary tale of fermented kimchi quickly turned out to be an international saga that touches on questions of fate, trauma, and identity.

Act II: “Sole Food.” For some people, such as Tali Aronsky, life is a meal: It starts off with exciting little tastes, it progresses to heavy dishes and main courses, and it’s ultimately resolved with the sweet flavor of wanting more. So how can chicken drumsticks, kubeh soup, hardboiled eggs, lamb biryani, and lahme bi ajeen tell a story of love, loss, despair, hope, and finally freedom? Managing producer Zev Levi treats us to an unusual seven-course “meal of life.”

Yochai Maital and Zev Levi scored and sound-designed the episode with original music and music from Blue Dot Sessions. Sela Waisblum created the mix. Thanks to Niva Ashkenazi, Oren Harman, Dalia Weil, Erwin Prabhu, Wayne Hoffman, Esther Werdiger, Sheila Lambert, Erica Frederick, Jeff Feig, and Joy Levitt.

The end song, “ABCD,” is sung by Shaizee, Abie, and Sol Harman.

Listen to the episode here, or download it from Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Spotify. You can hear all of Israel Story’s episodes in English here and in Hebrew here.

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