Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How to Make Pita

Image credit:, used with permission.

Reprinted with permission from

For my recipe today, I could have picked its origin from several countries including Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Iran or even North Africa, to name a few but I feel a deep attachment to the Promised Land. This is my haven.

There is not really an Israeli cuisine. Israel is a country of minorities founded by immigrants from a multitude of ethnicities from many countries.

The gastronomic heritage of Israel is extremely varied and in this country of immigrants, people praise as much shakshuka, hummus, falafel, or schnitzel (breaded chicken cutlets) as the national dish. But if there is one staple that is omnipresent on any authentic Israeli table, it would be pita bread aka pita (plural pitotes), and this is the recipe I chose to prepare today.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Northern Soul Music from Tel Aviv

Do Israelis appreciate soul music? Do they miss the mod-inspired “northern soul” scene of the 60s and 70s? Can a brass-powered beat and English language lyrics be considered Israeli music?

Ask Men of North Country, an Israeli soul band hailing from Tel Aviv also known as MONC. “The sound is not really Israeli,” admitted lead singer Yashiv Cohen in a 2012 interview with the Jewish Chronicle Online. “Israeli ears don’t understand it. We tried sending songs to the radio here. They don’t really get it. If we send music to the UK stations, they know exactly what it is.”

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Jerusalem, a City of Secrets

Pre-State Jerusalem is the setting for this short novel about the members of a Haganah cell staging evermore daring raids against British Mandate forces. Protagonist Brand is a Latvian Jew who survived the death camps in Europe but not the nightmares that followed. Having arrived on the shores of Palestine on a Maltese freighter, Brand now works in Jerusalem as a taxi driver with papers provided by the Jewish underground.

In City of Secrets by Stewart O'Nan (Viking, April 2016), Jerusalem is colorfully described as a “puzzle box built of symbols, a confusion of old and new, armored cars and donkeys in the streets, Bedouins and bankers.” In the rainy season, the city’s “walls were gray instead of golden, the souks teeming with rats.” The winter “rain fell on the domes and bell towers and minarets, filling the ancient cisterns beneath the Old City, fell on Mount Scopus and the Mount of Olives and the desert beyond, thunder cracking over the Dead Sea.”

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Colors of Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market

Tel Aviv is truly a city that never stops. With 14 kilometers of Mediterranean beachfront, promenades, sandy beaches, numerous cafes and restaurants, fancy hotels, trendy nightclubs, and endless blue horizons, Tel Aviv is a must-see destination on any visitor’s Israel itinerary.

The city has been recognized by travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler as one of the best food cities in the world as well as offering a cuisine suitable for the most discerning vegetarians. Tel Aviv has frequently been mentioned as one of the most gay-friendly travel destinations with its gay beach and huge annual Pride Parade. But the city’s best kept secret is its colorful open air market.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Let the Writer Speak

Earlier this year I was interviewed by Atina Dimtrova, a young Bulgarian author who is currently studying Journalism at City University in London. Here is part of the article that appeared on her website:

Ellis bears no resemblance to any other author. Coming from America, spending his life in Israel, he popularizes Bulgarians’ values. He longed to promote foreign culture, thanks to writing a new book, which speaks volumes about his magnanimity as a human being. The love for writing was revived one more time – with Shuman’s second novel – “The Burgas Affair”. This book was based on Ellis’ research about the link between Israel and Bulgaria. 

“Unfortunately, one of the things that connected us was the terrible terrorist attack in Burgas airport in 2012,” he said. “There was no resolution who actually committed this tremendous crime and I decided to put this question into fiction.”

Read the rest of my interview with Atina Dimitrova on her website.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bulgaria's Secret to Long Life

The Rhodope Mountains in southern Bulgaria are said to be home to the highest percentage of centenarians not only in Bulgaria, but worldwide. According to unofficial estimations, the rate is higher than in Japan and all Western countries. Many Rhodopi residents live to a ripe old age – what is the secret to their longevity?

It starts with yogurt. The ties between Bulgaria and yogurt date back to the days of the Thracians, a group of militant tribes that ruled the Balkans during Roman times. Legend says that these ancient warriors carried sheep’s milk in lambskin bags around their waist. As they rode into battle, their body heat helped ferment the milk into yogurt.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Book Review: The Jerusalem Creed

I must admit – anytime that Jerusalem appears in the name of a book it is bound to attract my attention. This was the case when I saw an ad for a thriller set in the Holy City and as the book was being offered for free on Kindle, I quickly downloaded it.

The Jerusalem Creed (Enclave, July, 2015) by Ernest Dempsey is the seventh book in the Sean Wyatt adventure thriller series. Wyatt, a trained killer in his former life, now works for a friend's artifact recovery agency. When Wyatt and his buddy Tommy are attacked in their homes, they realize that they have been targeted by an unknown madman who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. But first, they must figure out exactly what that madman wants.

The book opens in Biblical Jerusalem, where some very important religious relics are to be spirited out of the ancient city ahead of the Babylonian invasion. Two disciples of the high priest are instructed to take these items to the far reaches of the empire, and even beyond, to save them from falling into Nebuchadnezzar’s hands.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Scenes from a Book Launch

It is every author's dream to see his/her book published and promoted at an official book launch. My dream came true, but in a different language!

On June 16th, my novel БYPГАСКАТА АФЕРА (THE BURGAS AFFAIR) was presented at the main Ciela book store in Sofia. The book made its world premiere in the Bulgarian language, as it has not yet been published in English.

THE BURGAS AFFAIR is a fictional account of the aftermath of the terrorist attack at the airport in Burgas, Bulgaria, in July 2012. In the book, a Bulgarian policeman is teamed up with an Israeli woman from the Mossad as they work a case involving international terrorists and local criminals in both Bulgaria and Israel, while confronting the traumas of their pasts.