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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Israeli Salad

Every immigrant to Israel has to deal with culture shock, I'm told. So far, I haven't seen much to distinguish Israel from California except for cobbled sidewalks ( a plus ), loads of available kosher food, markets and restaurants (a major plus) a plethora of synagogues (another major plus) smokers (a minus) and incessant horn-honking, a practice that could get you killed in California, so it startled me at first.

The thing that has struck me most strongly is that Israel is a small country. I don't mean just geographically: the cars are small, the streets are small, the people are on the average shorter than the average American. But where 'small' is most noticeable is in the markets. There is no such thing as 'super-size' anything. Shampoo, sandwich bags, deoderant, even the cucumbers, pineapples, watermelons and bananas are much smaller than those found in the States (they also taste better here, by the way).

The major exception to this rule is salads. In Israel, the salad is not necessarily something served on the side of the main course. The salad is a meal in itself. The salads are HUGE. I've been known to order salads and not be able to finish them. I've frequently ordered a 'salad and two forks' since a single salad can feed me and another member of the family.

Not only are the salads HUGE, they're also creative. Salads here are more inventive, more fun and use more combinations of ingredients than I've seen used anywhere, including the vaunted California Cuisine of the West Coast.

You can get a salad as a side dish. We got an 'appetizer' last night at a new restaurant on Emek Refaim called La Boca. The 'appetizer' was a wonderful meat empanade with a simple salad--this appetizer plate was a meal in itself. I've ordered a 'salad' under the appetizer list at Joy and happily eaten the salad alone, as the salad was a meal in itself.

Salads come in every conceivable combination. Salads with a variety of greens; salads with no greens; salads with cheeses I've never heard of but are wonderful; salads loaded with Feta; "Arab" salads with the usual tomatoes and cucumbers, but each one different--some with capers, some with green onions, some with fennel, all with a variety of different herbs and spices. Salads with pastas, salads with sweet potatoes and nuts, salads with oriental themes, salads of fruits and yoghurts....salads here are ubiquitous and you can't ever get tired of salad in Israel. There are just too many of them and they ARE the one exception to the 'small' rule I've found.

Trust Israel, tiny as it is, to feed its people BIG portions of the fruits, nuts and vegetables from its bounty.

And if you're going to enjoy the delicious bounty of this time of year, with it's turn to a New Year and new hopes, amid the joy and celebration of your families, please take a moment to think of those who would also like to enjoy the bounty of the New Year, and donate to Meir Panim, an organization which has valiantly stepped in to feed Israel's hungry.

On Yom Kippur, Isaiah instructs us:

Surely you should divide your bread with the hungry
and bring the moaning poor to your home.
When you see the naked, cover him,
and do not ignore your kin.
Then your light will burst forth like the dawn
and your healing will speedily sprout.
Then your righteous deed will precede you
and the glory of God will gather you in.
Then you will call
and God will respond.

May you be inscribed for a good year, and may the tzedakah you perform merit HaShem's blessing on all of us.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nicely put! See you tomorrow? I've got a new friend in my class...another American gal married to an Israeli; look for us at one of the tables hopefully! :)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 at 2:16:00 PM GMT+3  
Blogger chicagoG said...

i read what you wrote on emah's blog about your parents.
it was very sad to hear.
they sound like my father's parents.
how can people be so heartless.
when my father died 4 years ago his dad cried over his body to forgive him.
however those were not true tears since 3 years later we saw his true colors -what we always saw in him.
i wish u and your family shana tova u' metuka

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 at 7:16:00 PM GMT+3  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who knew that salads could sound so dad-gum enticing?! It is refreshing to read about daily nuances of life that all of us can appreciate. You have such a wonderful way of expressing yourself that it makes it enjoyable to read about the daily happenings of the family!!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 at 10:04:00 PM GMT+3  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

emah s--thanks for the intro--nice to meet another olah!

Gali--thank you!

Jilly--ok, are u tempted yet? You've got to come over and try all these salads!

Thursday, September 21, 2006 at 2:59:00 PM GMT+3  
Blogger Mia said...

You think Israeli packages are small, what do you think of our European 200ml Shampoo bottles then? I used to schlepp Shampoo, Conditioner and Deodorant to Switz and Hungary just because they were 750ml :D

I love the Israeli salads! Usually portions are for two or you can take half home and it as another meal :)

Shana tova ve metuka!

Friday, September 22, 2006 at 8:55:00 AM GMT+3  
Blogger Kapara said...

In response to every thing small... what I wouldn’t do four a four pack of toilet paper. Carrying around the big Sam size bag of TP is a real pain!

Saturday, September 30, 2006 at 5:13:00 AM GMT+3  
Blogger aliyah06 said...

Mia--I haven't yet been introduced to the European mini-shampoo bottle...how DO you manage? Cultural adjustments....sigh

Yona--ah, but I've discovered the stores DELIVER!! It's not worth it if you just have a bag or two, but if you have the giant 24-pack of TP plus chicken, two bottles of milk, a 6-pack of Tuborg (Go Denmark!!) and other assorted items that make for a double-agulah worth of food, and no car--well, then spending for delivery makes sense.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006 at 7:51:00 PM GMT+2  

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