Givatayim’s legendary eggplant-maker Oved Daniel, whom they call the “professor of sabich [Iraqi eggplant dish] science,” is opening up a new restaurant in Tel Aviv. Previously a gifted soccer player, today Daniel is a local food celebrity whose specialty sabich is one of Israel’s most beloved foods. Sabich has its roots in Israel’s Iraqi community. It is a traditional Baghdadi breakfast dish, consisting of fried eggplant, Arabic salad, parsley, fresh onion and a baked or boiled egg and emerged as a national sensation in the 1960’s.
In 1961 Tzvi Halabi opened up the first sabich stand in Ramat Gan, the Tel Aviv suburb with a thriving Iraqi-Israeli community. It was Halabi who first added hummus and tahini to sabich, and sold it to Israeli consumers inside a warm pita. Then Oved Daniel opened up his place in the neighboring suburb, which is when sabich grew in popularity.
The workers at “Oved” became local food celebrities among eggplant lovers, famed for their unique slang, derived from soccer metaphors and Hebrew wordplay.
For example, to order a sabich without red or yellow spicy sauces, one says the score is “zero, zero.” These colors correlate with popular Israeli soccer teams. You could also say that Maccabi Tel Aviv wins to order one sauce without the other, a tie to order both sauces.
In a few weeks, Daniel’s highly anticipated new restaurant will become the first branch aside from the original “Oved” in Givatayim.
::Maariv (In Hebrew)
Read more about Israeli foods:
Eggplants and Peppers: Produce in the Middle East
Book Review: Mama Nazima’s Jewish-Iraqi Cuisine by Rivka Goldman
One-handed Whole Wheat Pita Recipe, the Old Yemini Way
Image of pita bread via Shutterstock. Image of Oved sabich via Leigh Cuen.