People love to watch videos of food. From those ubiquitous Tasty tutorials on Facebook to the precious “Chef’s Table” on Netflix, shows about cuisine cater to a hungry audience.
But a video without context would just be empty calories — especially if assessing an entire country’s cookery.
That’s the task at hand in “In Search of Israeli Cuisine,” a documentary that’s been on the festival circuit for the past few years and is now getting its theatrical release.
Trekking from secular Tel Aviv — for these purposes, the capital of Israeli’s food scene — to ancient Akko to Jerusalem and beyond, we meet passionate chefs and food makers and hear expert commentary on Israel’s complex history, politics and identity, in an attempt to define what Israeli cuisine is.
As our guide, there’s Michael Solomonov, a respected chef in his own right in Philadelphia, and an Israeli native. Solomonov seems destined for this role — he’s knowledgeable but not pretentious, respectful, curious and affable. Director Roger Sherman captures real, authentic moments between Solomonov and the film’s subjects — in addition to, yes, some delicious-looking food.
The documentary goes off course at times — especially when it veers more on the personal side for Solomonov. But as a record of a time, place and culinary scene that will continue to evolve, it satisfies.