It is impossible to acknowledge the contribution, help and support of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of professional chefs and caterers, domestic cooks, food writers, diners, and eaters who shared with me their food and recipes and confided to me their thoughts and emotions. I tremendously enjoyed their food and company, learned so much from our conversations, and was humbled time and again by their generosity. I hope my text is as palatable as the food and food for thought they offered me so generously. I also hope they understand that this book, just like the food parents sometimes insist their children eat because “it is good for them,” is meant to do good.
I am grateful to my colleagues and students in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ben-Gurion University who have read or heard earlier versions of the chapters. Their questions, comments, and critique were extremely valuable and helped me fine-tune my arguments, acknowledge my biases, shortcomings, and mistakes, and improve the text.
This book was written while I was on sabbatical at Middlebury College, where my family and I enjoyed the hospitality of the faculty, staff, and students. Thanks are due to Timi Mayer, director of the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs at Middlebury, who supported the writing of the book and made sure that my year was fruitful and pleasant. My sabbatical was supported by a generous fellowship from the Israel Institute.
Special thanks are due to Josh Berlowitz, a Middlebury senior appointed to be my research assistant while I was compiling the text. His editing of the text was very helpful, and his critique and suggestions were extremely significant. A scholar in the making, Josh was a great asset, and anyone should be so lucky to have an assistant and friend like him.
(p.xvi) The staff at UC Press were supportive and professional. I would like to thank Darra Goldstein, Melissa Caldwell, Kate Marshal, Bradley Depew, Cindy Fulton, and Genevieve Thurston for accepting my manuscript and preparing it for press. I am especially grateful to Michael Herzfeld, Ellen Oxfeld, and an anonymous reviewer for their positive reviews of the manuscript and their valuable comments. The publication of the book was supported by the Israel Science Foundation.
I talked about many of the findings and ideas presented in this book with my late parents, Elyakum Avieli (1937–2004) and Aviva Avieli (1943–2015). They were not always convinced, but I think that they shared my concern about Israel and understood my attempt to make sense of some of the difficulties and problems Israeli society is facing. My sisters, Merav and Hila, were supportive and amused.
I discussed every observation, interview, idea, and argument presented in this book with my spouse, Irit, who is my best friend and partner, my most valuable commentator, and my companion in life. How can I thank her for what is essentially hers? Irit, this book, too, is yours as much as it is mine.