• Hila

Why Tahini takes me back to my childhood 

Updated: Feb 19

I was a very picky eater as a child. In this photo, my mother is feeding me while I’m distracted playing with a toy. But what was completely unacceptable at my family dinning table back then in the 70's, was the fact that I refused to eat raw tomatoes - a staple in every Israeli home.  

What the heck is wrong with this child?!

I'm 4 years old, and in my daycare we're having the same snack everyday: a slice of bread with Gvina levana (the Israeli soft white cheese spread) and fresh cut tomato. I would associate daycares with the smell of that cheese and tomato combination for the rest of my life, but I had never ate it. Instead, I was given a slice of bread with margarine and fresh cucumbers. 

But at home, my mom didn’t give up. One day she had an idea: If my child likes tahini so much, she wouldn’t mind eating tomatoes if they were chopped up and covered entirely with tahini sauce. In other words - The tahini could be a distraction from the tomatoes.

For a while it did work, and I couldn't resist eating this. after all, I did love tahini a lot. But recalling this today I suspect that the real reason was that the bitter-sweetness of the tahini contradicted the strong acidity flavor of the tomatoes, and had created a completely different tomato experience.

Today we know that people who hate raw tomatoes but love them when they’re fully cooked  - like me - do not necessary have a psychological issue. But tahini for me, to this day - no matter how it is made or where - would always be the food that takes me back to my childhood and reminds me of home.