Food and cooking in Gaza have changed radically in the last few years since the whole area has been under siege. The borders of this tiny strip are entirely closed, allowing only humanitarian shipments of basic foods to enter–flour, sugar, salt, oil, pulses–and even these are entering at a rate which, according to the UN, only covers about half of the population’s most immediate needs. (And that calculation assumes a totally equal distribution of aid, unlikely in the best of circumstances.)
Other goods enter through the Israeli border in a very limited number of trucks bearing a somewhat surreal selection of “necessities” determined by the Israel Defense Force’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. One week when I was there, for example, those necessities included persimmons and bananas but excluded almost all other food products. Everything else required to sustain the Gazan population of 1.5 million can only enter through underground tunnels from Egypt, an extraordinarily expensive clandestine trade in which many have died due to the gassing and bombing of the tunnels.