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When I recently showed my son David how to make pita bread, I was a bit apprehensive: I was afraid that the breads would not puff up as they came out of the oven. I tried to make the rounds exactly the way I did it in Jerusalem many years ago, when I worked for Teddy Kollek, the city’s mayor. But this time I tried a new trick that I learned from Michael Solomonov, chef of Zahav in Philadelphia: Roll the rounds out just before they go into the hot oven. The pocket breads puffed up so beautifully, it was as if they were just waiting for some falafel and fixings.
This is one of the earliest breads known to mankind, mentioned in the Bible as the round “shewbread” prepared in the Temple of Jerusalem some 3,000 years ago. Today these pocket breads are heralded the world over as a covering for hummus and falafel. And they also are delicious with ordinary unsalted butter.
Joan Nathan is Tablet Magazine’s food columnist and the author of 10 cookbooks including King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.