Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

“L’chaim!” and Lunch

I will probably never be a vegetarian. Bacon is my favorite food group, and on more than one occasion I’ve watched an “Epic Meal Time” video on YouTube and have thought to myself, “That actually sounds like a great idea.”

So what happens when you take a self-proclaimed carnivore to a vegetarian restaurant? I found out when Merav Levkowitz (SFS ’11), former president of the Georgetown Israel Alliance, took me to Maoz Vegetarian (1817 M St. NW) last Saturday.

Maoz is a restaurant chain with locations in both the United States and Europe that primarily serve falafel. Falafel is native to many areas in the Middle East, but the chain was started by an Israeli couple living in Amsterdam. Luckily for Levkowitz, who has celiac disease, Maoz also sells gluten-free falafel.

Now, I may be a meat-eater, but I like to think that I eat pretty healthfully, and I won’t say no to a plate of fresh food. That is exactly what I got with the Junior Maoz Sandwich: half of a thick, doughy pita stuffed with three flavorful, flash-fried falafel, which were warm and soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. The sandwich was packed with my choice of fresh toppings (tahini, Israeli salad, pickled eggplant, cabbage and spiced carrots) from the salad bar. As I ate — very ungracefully, with toppings falling out everywhere — Levkowitz regaled me with stories about her family’s love for food, what it’s like to be a foodie with celiac disease and her study abroad experience in Israel.

Levkowitz’s father, who grew up in Israel, is well known for his falafel. “My parents’ wedding was around the date of Israel’s independence day, which fluctuates on the Gregorian calendar, so they invited all of their friends over and had a big falafel party,” she said. “My dad made the falafel, hummus and salads. Ever since then, we have held a joint celebration of Israel’s independence day and my parents’ anniversary in May. And my parents make falafel.”

Her mother comes from a family of bakers, which is ironic and unfortunate for a girl with celiac disease. “The hardest thing to give up was my mom’s challah bread, which she makes every Friday. She’s famous among our family friends for it!” Merav said.

Having celiac disease, however, hasn’t stopped her from enjoying Israeli food, especially while she was abroad. “I was thrilled to be there in terms of celiac options,” she said, “because everywhere I went I could get salad as a meal.” Israeli salads are made up of different types of finely chopped vegetables. The typical base for one consists of cucumbers, tomatoes and onions marinated in lemon and olive oil.

While abroad, Levkowitz would often spend weekends at her uncle’s house in a kibbutz, a type of collective community found in Israel. “My aunt, who was born in Tunisia, is the big cook in the family. As soon as I get there she asks, ‘What do you want to eat?’ She’s always making couscous and so many other dishes. We’ll finish lunch and she’ll put out a snack between meals,” she said.

“After lunch one day, we were about to go for a walk in the desert area near their house, and she asked if we wanted a sandwich for the road — and we were going to have dinner right when we came back!”

Levkowitz found that Israel is home to a mix of cuisines with North African, Mediterranean, European and Middle Eastern influences. She pointed out two uniquely Israeli foods: shakshouka (poached eggs in tomato sauce) and sabich  (an egg and eggplant sandwich) — I didn’t try this, but it’s offered at Maoz.

As part of the Georgetown Israel Alliance, Levkowitz has found ways to bring Israeli food to Georgetown. “At the beginning of the year, we have an event called Taste of Israel and celebrate Israeli Independence Day in the spring,” Merav said. “We’re celebrating it this year during iWeek. On April 7, we’ll have free falafel, shawarma and hummus, so you should definitely stop by!”


Christina Crisostomo is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. She can be reached at [email protected]. Breaking Bread appears every other Friday in the guide.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Hoya

Your donation will support the student journalists of Georgetown University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Hoya

Comments (0)

All The Hoya Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *