Monday, March 19, 2012

Looking Back at Israel - Food

Again, I am finding it very hard to write about Israel. There is so much. So, let me begin with something incredibly simple. The food.

When you are a picky particular eater, traveling to a foreign country is bound to introduce you to new, unknown foods. One might need to be daring, but even then, there is no guarantee the food will be good. The mediterranean diet is full of great food, however there are two essential things you need to like: olives & chickpeas. Neither does Hubs like.

So, our suitcases were filled with snacks. The breakfasts and dinners were buffets at our hotels and always had a large enough variety for us to fill up on. Picture giant bowls of fruits and veggies, pasta salads and cheeses. All except the final hotel were certified Kosher. So, meat and dairy could not be served together. There was no butter for your rolls in the evening. There was no meat in the morning to go with your eggs. Not really a huge deal for me, but others found it rough. The last hotel we stayed in was by far everyone's favorite, mainly because it was a great mixture of the foods we liked of Israel and the foods we were used to in the States.

Lunches were an entirely different matter. We ate local, which means we ate falafel or schwarma. I happen to like both, but Hubs suffered through the loads of hummus inside the pita bread. In one Arab town, we got to have schnitzel - chicken breaded in sesame seeds and wrapped in a pita. And one day we ate at the most expensive McDonald's ever.

One amazing opportunity we had was to be invited to our bus driver's home for lunch. He is a beduin Arab by descent, as well as a Christian. His wife and family cooked an amazing meal and invited us into their home. We at in stages:

Stage 1: Coffee. Not normal coffee, but coffee brewed with cardamon. And they believed Americans to prefer coffee with sugar (gag), so they also brewed it with sugar. It was very hard, but we all chugged it down.

Stage 2: Pastry. A pastry pocket filled with fruit and nuts - dates, apples, spices and nuts. It was very good.

Stage 3: The main course. Fall-off-the-bone chicken in delicious seasonings, pita bread (more like naan) covered in olive oil and onions, a very sour cheese and tomatoes. I loved the pita and I loved the chicken and tomatoes. And I am one of those people who usually insists on swallowing anything somebody makes for you, however I could not. Our poor pita was drenched in oil and after eating 1/4 of my plate, I started to have the gag reflex. Maybe my body wasn't used to the spices and oil, maybe it was because I had been awake for over 24 hours, but this food was not going down my throat.

Stage 4: Fruit. We got to pick a piece a fresh fruit. This was delightful. Israel grows much produce and much of what is eaten there is grown there

Stage 5: Tea. A nice cup of sweetened tea with mint. It was a refreshing end the meal.

In Old Jerusalem, we were free to eat wherever we chose. Hubs & I chose pizza quite frequently and at one pizzeria had this frozen lemonade with mint leaves that was delicious. [And I'm pretty sure I can duplicate it.]

I think we could have had a lot worse to deal with than Kosher standards and chickpeas!

1 comment:

Laura said...

I feel a little sorry for 'hubs' but it all sounds fantastic to me! At least you didn't have to eat bugs. I like to try new foods but that would be past the limit. :)