A Jewish Israeli and a Muslim Arab Israeli open an ice cream parlor together in the Western Galilee
(By Sarah Carnvek)
In an old Arab house overlooking the Tarshiha shuk (market), the double town's first ice cream parlor opened its doors in July 2012. It didn't take long before Jewish, Christian and Muslim residents from the surrounding area made a pilgrimage to the site.
"Our ice cream is made in the Italian style but influenced by the whole Galilee region. We're not just a novelty of being an Arab-Jewish coexistence ice cream store," says Adam Ziv, co-owner of the new parlor. "We make ice cream that people like."
Ziv, a Kibbutz Sasa resident, opened the spacious store with Alaa Sawitat, a Tarshiha native and owner of a popular local bistro. They called it Bouza – “ice cream” in Arabic.
Though most people would associate a chic ice cream parlor with bustling Tel Aviv, the 27-year-old Ziv says he purposely chose the periphery for his first business venture.
"The feeling in Tel Aviv is that life is normal because people get up in the morning and eat ice cream and go hear a concert − so why not do the same things in the periphery? And besides, I like living in the mountains,” he told Haaretz.
Secrets of the trade
Ziv learned the secrets of how to make ice cream and gelato during his travels around the Canary Islands, Italy, Cape Verde Islands and the United Kingdom. He helped fund his trip by working along the way at a small gelato parlor in Pisa, an ice cream store in the Canaries and a family gelato business in Tuscany.
He returned to Kibbutz Sasa in the spring of 2011 and announced that he wanted to open a place of his own. He turned to Tarshiha native Sawitat for ideas of where to set up a store. Quickly, the two became business partners and opened Bouza together.
While Ziv likes to explore new flavors, the bestsellers at Bouza are the nut varieties.
"Anything with nuts – hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachio – these are our big sellers," says Ziv, who is in charge of making the cold dessert. "We’re trying some Middle Eastern mixes like pomegranate and lemongrass or chocolate and spearmint. We're still working on a kanafeh [sweet Middle Eastern cheese pastry] flavored ice cream but haven't found the right recipe yet. I don't want to be too snooty about the flavors. Our motto is 'simply ice cream' – and that's what we do. We make great ice cream for our general clientele."
Ice cream all year round
In Israel, where the weather is great nearly all year round, eating ice cream is a 365-day pastime. The average Israeli eats about 10 liters of ice cream per year, compared to 6.2 liters per capita in Italy, home of gelato.
Upmarket ice cream parlors can be found all over the country. So, with the Christian-Muslim town of Tarshiha now being dubbed an up-and-coming destination, Bouza's location seems a prime fit. Ziv says Israelis also like the idea of Jewish and Muslim co-owners.
"Israelis like to tell a story about a place where they ate. Just like they talk about the best hummus joint or the best place to eat kanafeh, that's how they talk about Bouza. They say, 'We found this place in Tarshiha market.' It's all part of an outing to the Galilee region," says Ziv.
Clientele at Bouza is a mix of tourists and people from neighboring villages, cities and ibbutzim. In the afternoons, the place is packed with schoolchildren as Bouza sells its creamy treats for just NIS 5 ($1.25) for anyone in school uniform. The ice cream is sold by portion size and not by scoop -- NIS 9, NIS 13 and NIS 17.
Asked what he hopes his customers will think about after eating his ice cream, Ziv says: "I want them to remember the way back."