Not only were the books and literature of Israel celebrated in Guadalajara this month during the FIL, but so was Israel’s cuisine. Right across the street from the FIL, the Guadalajara Hilton hosted a week of typical Israeli cuisine, prepared by visiting Master Chef Victor Gloger. And by all accounts, the Middle Eastern gastronomic adventure was a runaway success.

El “Festival Gastronomico de Israel” was the latest in the Hilton’s tradition of featuring the cuisine of the “Pais Invitado de Honor” by FIL each year. Hilton management worked closely with the Embassy of Israel in Mexico in organizing and sponsoring the event.

It was the embassy, for example, that recommended Chef Gloger, the star behind Chloelys, one of Tel Aviv’s — and thus Israel’s — best and most popular restaurants. Another important factor in the choice of Gloger was the fact that, as an Argentinian-born Israeli, his native language is Spanish. Gloger was unable to bring his staff with him, so he had to work with the Hilton’s local team of sous-chefs.

Gloger arrived in Guadalajara in September on a familiarization visit. He toured the local market to make note of which fresh ingredients were available and make note of the spices he would have to bring with him. A shipment of spices from Israel made its way to Guadalajara by diplomatic pouch.

Gloger’s work started with the FIL opening banquet, for 750 people, and continued through the next eight days with a daily afternoon buffet, as well as four Israeli a la carte dishes served each evening at the Hilton’s Los Vitrale Restaurant.

“The festival can only be categorized as an unqualified success,” said a pleased Gloger. “Between 450-500 people came every day to sample the foods at the buffet.”

Hilton Guadalajara General Manager Peter Leder agrees. “Over the course of the festival, we served more than 20,000 meals, including catered events.”

According to Gloger, the buffet was quite extensive, encompassing classic dishes from a variety of Jewish ethnic cuisines represented in Israel: North African, Yemenite and Mediterranean, from the Sephardic tradition, and Eastern European, in the Ashkenazic tradition.

“There was khraime, majadara, couscous, and gefilte fish,” said Gloger, who also baked 1,500 hallot — including one that was 1.5 meters long, for shabbat.

“In addition to the main buffet,” he adds, “there was a selection of street food enjoyed in Israel today, such as hummus, falafel, and meu’rav yerushalmi (Jerusalem mixed grill).

“Plus, we always served 2-3 desserts,” Gloger noted. “In honor of Hanukkah, we had sufganiyot filled with dulce de leche.”

The food may have been Jewish and Israeli, but it was definitely not kosher. And neither Gloger nor Leder could shed light on one mystery: a large sign adjacent to the Israel pavilion at FIL announcing Israel Food Week at the Hilton, with KOSHER written in large letters.

“That sign was not ours,” insists Leder, “and it was not on our premises.” Gloger thought the local Jabad rabbi and his wife might be connected to a notice advertising kosher food, but the rabbi refused to respond to an email inquiring about possible Jabad involvement.