Saturday, April 28, 2007
GOURMET OR GOURMAND
The items were chosen by consensus but I don't know who the respondents were or how they were picked. In any event - the foods were a big surprise to me, mostly because they are so ordinary that I can't imagine going through life without them.
50-Cornish Pasties - satisfying
49-Caviar - love the taste and the feel of those little eggs bursting in my mouth
48-Haggis - not nearly as terrible as one would think
47-* Jerk Chicken
46-Tapas - the most wonderful bits to eat in Spain while drinking a glass of sherry
45-Roast Beef - and Yorkshire Pudding at Sunday lunch in England
44-Ribs - juicy ones at the Black Steer in Motza near Jerusalem
43-Octopus - prefer calamari
41-Mango - the best fruit ever, especially if you are in India when they are in season
40-* Meat Pie - from a particular place in Sydney, Australia
39-Scallops - lightly cooked with the roe attached - try it on skewers alternating with bacon
38-Kebabs - Doner Kebab in Turkey, any kebab in Israel
36-* Silver Baramundi - a fish from Australia
35-Paella - wonderful when made well with lots of seafood, hold the chicken
34-Sushi - one of my favorites - especially yellowtail with scallions and salmon skin rolls
33-Shark - absolutely delicious on a barbecue
32-* Guinea Pig - from South America
31-Venison - love it with lingonberry jam and pureed chestnuts
30-Salmon - fresh, moist, slightly undercooked
29-American Diner Breakfast - eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, toast, coffee
28-Squid - or calamari - fried, especially in Greece on an Island
27-Fajitas/Chicken Mole - tied for 27th place
26-Hamburgers - the real thing (not Burger King or McDonalds) juicy, rare, with all the fixin's
25-Snails - and do sop up the garlic butter with good bread
24-Sandwiches - no soggy packaged breads please - thick with interesting fillings
23-Chocolate - like Leonides, Daskalides, Teuscher - the good ones only
21-Oysters - fresh, icy cold with just a squeeze of lemon - no bottled red sauce
20-Alligator - not my favorite
19-Cream Tea - with scones and clotted cream and strawberry preserves - divine
18-Lamb - lovely and pink and delicate
17-Cheesecake - the old-fashioned kind from long-ago Lindy's in New York
16-Mussels - "moules frites" and ice cold white wine at Chez Leon in Brussels with Fred
15-Pasta - any and all - just not that glop in cans
14-Pancakes - how do you lilke that? Something I don't like to eat!!
13-Barbecue - anything and everything tastes better done on the grill
12-Clam Chowder - Creamy "New England" - not "Manhattan" - big difference
11-* Morton Bay Bugs - shellfish
10-Prawns - the best ones I had were at the Bay of Bengal in Southern India at "The Wharf"
9-Curry - delicious - but you know I like India
8-Crabs - boiled crab dinner in Maryland, the legs at "Joe's Stone Crab" in Miami
7-Pizza - none of those awful toppings. Just tomato, cheese and (sometimes) pepperoni
6-Ice Cream - real vanilla, mint-chocolate chip, coffee and pistachio
5-Chinese Food - I'm Jewish, aren't I? Sunday night in New York without chinese food?
4-Thai Food - the sohpisticate's Chinese Food
3-Steak - for me, skirt steak or T-Bone - very rare
2-Lobster - steamed or boiled - with just a bit of melted butter
1-Fresh Fish - now, there's a surprise - who would've thought that would be #1
And this list doesn't even begin to note my personal favorites. But that's for another time.
Friday, April 20, 2007
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ISRAEL
Tuesday is, once again, Yom HaAtzmaut - and it will be Israel's 59th birthday.
What an incredible introduction to Israel that was. My parents' friends, Haim and Moni Glovinsky, came to my hotel in Tel Aviv and took me out to show me how Israelis celebrated. We walked through the crowded streets - people were hitting each other on the head with plastic hammers which went "ping" when they made contact - no, it didn't hurt at all - they bought me a hammer as a souvenir - we ate ice cream - and I was amazed to see soldiers holding machine guns stationed on the roofs of the buildings. It was a Yom HaAtzmaut I will always remember - but as an outsider - I wasn't part of Israel - I wasn't yet an Israeli.
Fast forward 32 years. I have been an Israeli for many years. I have the most wonderful circle of friends - and today I celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut differently.
But before we celebrate we Remember. Yes - Remember with a capital "R" - because Monday is Remembrance Day - when we recall and pay homage to our fallen soldiers. It's a very solemn day - very sad - very poignant - and we light memorial candles to honor our dead. And immediately afterward - we begin to celebrate our Independence.
It's really emblematic of our lives here. We have very high "highs" and very low "lows". We have always been in a struggle for our existence - and then we "pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again" - just as in the song.
So this year will be the same for me. I will light my candle on Sunday night and recall those who gave their lives for us. And on Monday night I'll go to the annual big party at Sally & Michael's house along with some other friends.
And on Tuesday - the annual countrywide barbecue. I'll be celebrating with Marallyn and her extended family once again. We'll begin barbecueing in the morning and only finish when there is no more room for one more morsel of food. Marallyn is a Canadian who married into a Kurdi family. (Kurdi - as in from Kurdistan) Kurdim don't know from green. And they certainly don't know from potato salad and cole slaw. Well - maybe an Israeli chopped salad, and some "salat hatzililm" (eggplant salad) and "hamutzim" (pickles and olives) - but that's it.
But meat? Everything you can imagine - and then some. And you want to know why I'm always on a diet?
Almost forgot - I'm going to Sarah's birthday party on Wednesday - and you still want to know why I'm always on a diet?
Sunday, April 15, 2007
THIS 'N' THAT
Have any of you been following the brouhaha around the dismissal of Don Imus from his radio talk-show in the States? True - he said some outrageous and disgusting things about the female, Black basketball players from New Jersey. Totally and completely uncalled for and gratuitously racist. Certainly grounds for dismissal.
However - who was leading the charge for his dismissal? None other than those two upstanding individuals - the Reverends (?!!?) Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Those two holier-than-thou rabble rousers. Does anyone remember Al Sharpton and the Tawana Brawley outrage of several years ago? And even more egregious - does no one remember Jesse Jackson calling New York "Hymietown"? An in-your-face slap at the Jews.
Shame on them - and shame on all the talking heads on American television who have allowed those actions to be forgotten. Are we now living through selective racism? Is is okay to "dis" the Jews but not "dis" the Blacks?
Last Wednesday Roz and I went to Herzliya Pituach - just to wander through the Mall, sit at the Marina and have some lunch - you know - just hang out. For those of you to whom this is not important - you will not have been aware that the US dollar has been dropping in value against the shekel. However - we who live on American dollars are "chalishing" (fainting).
Exactly one year ago we were getting 4.70 shekels to the dollar. On Wednesday, as I was driving to Herzliya, I had the radio on. At 10:00 AM the rate was 4.10. While I was parking my car the 11 o'clock news reported the rate at 4.08. And as I was driving home to Jerusalem the 4 o'clock news reported the rate as 4.06.
This morning I awoke to the news that the rate is just a bit over 4!! What a tremendous drop in buying power. I've lived through three currencies here - first the Lira - which was changed to the Shekel - which devalued so quickly - hundreds of points in a year - that the currency was again switched - to the New Shekel. What now?
All in all - not a great week. For those of you who also read Marallyn's blog - she hasn't been on line for a while - her mother-in-law - Savta Simcha - passed away last week and Marallyn has been taking care of her husband and his siblings while they are sitting shiva. May they be counted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Here's hoping for a better week next week.
Monday, April 09, 2007
DAI - MASPEEK
And that's where I am now. I've had enough of Pesach. I'm ready to move on. Enough matza - enough kneidlach (matza balls) - enough gefilte fish - enough of thinking what it's OK to eat and what's not OK to eat. Enough of eating - period.
Which is not to say that I haven't had fun. Holiday dinners and lunches with my friends - what could be more fun than getting together with your friends? Including a great Shabbat lunch with my friends Riva (of the India trip) and David and their blended families. We've been friends so long that I've watched the grandchildren grow up and marry - and have been to a baby-naming of a grandchild - and realized on Saturday that the "baby" is now a big girl.
Marallyn and I went out for our usual Friday morning breakfast - on Sunday - which really blew my mind - because Sunday was erev-Chag (the day before the last holiday of Pesach) and it felt like Friday - because Friday is also a short day as it's right before Shabbat. In fact - I have been so mixed up with the days because of the holidays that I forgot to light my candles on Friday night - because it didn't feel like Friday. Are you feeling the same way?
Tonight it's over - in Israel anyway. Then it's back to real life - and time for me to get back to cooking - what? cooking you say? - yes - cooking for my own guests. It's time for me to get back to being a hostess and not always a guest - although I must say that I love being a guest - it's fun to eat someone elses food - see what other people do - how others serve.
And time to go back on that damned diet - the bane of my existence - you absolutely cannot diet during Pesach. So tonight the leftover matza goes out - yes, I know it's a sin to waste food but dai-maspeek - enough already - and to tell you the truth there's not that much matza left over.
To quote Marallyn - "Yahoo - Pesach is over - now we can look forward to Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day) - so that we can go to a barbecue - and eat some more".
I'm going to change my sign-off - I will always wish for you to "Stay Safe" - but I'm going to use a real Israeli expression to say goodbye - until next time -
Thursday, April 05, 2007
COEXISTENCE - or - PLURALISM - or - WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT
We parked in the designated place - under a sign which read "Parking for pick-up and drop-off of train passengers". There were actual places marked off for parking your car. The sign did not say "Standing for pick-up and drop-off of train passengers". It clearly said PARKING. So we parked the car and walked the twenty or so steps to the front of the train station and waited for Max. When we returned to the car - it wasn't there. It had been towed. Not merely ticketed - towed. Forget the long story - we got into a cab - drove to the Reading Station - and bought back her car. And then on to the museum. Really - only in Israel.
I won't bother to tell you about the exhibit - suffice it to say that I don't "get" Mark Rothko. I didn't understand his paintings when I saw them in the States and I don't understand them now. Who knows - perhaps I am just a philistine - he doesn't talk to me. I wondered - if he were not Mark Rothko would people rush to see his paintings? Or does the emperor have no clothes?
Anyway - after hours at the museum we were feeling peckish - really quite hungry. So we drove up to the Port - which has now become very "in" with all manner of wonderful restaurants - and we decided to eat at Gilly's. As we walked onto the outside deck area we noticed on some of the tables bread baskets - holding rolls - not Pesachdik matza-meal rolls - real honest-to-goodness rolls - and alongside the bread baskets were plates of matzot. Roz and I, of course, do not eat bread and rolls during Pesach - chametz, remember? - and so we sent the rolls back. However - we shared a large platter of the most succulent fish and shrimp and calamari!! Max had cheese burgers - six small cheese burgers served on bread with slices of tomato. He said they were delicious. But I suppose it was OK to eat that because two negatives make one positive - bread during Pesach - a no no - cheese and meat together - also a no no - two no no's equal one yes yes. Right?
So today - my darling funny friends, Yoav and Ernesto, took me to lunch in Abu Gosh. Now - bear in mind that we were in an Arab restaurant in the middle of an Arab village. The patrons? All Israelis. And what do we see on some of the tables? Matzot. What clever businessmen the owners are. We started with "meze" - many small plates of all kinds of salads - including hummus - but as we eat "kitniot" (beans and legumes) during Pesach we were fine. They, very wisely, refrained from serving us "kubbe" ( those deep-fried torpedo-shaped goodies stuffed with meat and "znobarim" (pine nuts) and made with a shell of burghul wheat - and "sigarim" - rolled phyllo pastry also stuffed with meat and znobarim) - because we asked for matza instead of pita. No chametz - remember?
Wine? - we were offered our choice of two kinds of wine - both from among the best Israeli "yekevim" (vineyards) - both absolutely kosher-for-Pesach.
And the main course? - what's not to eat - a mixed grill of lamb chops, kebabs, chicken livers and pargiot (a sort of small, succulent chicken). And, of course, chips (french fries). So what's not kosher-for-Pesach there?
Need I tell you what a wonderful time we had? We didn't stop talking for one minute - we solved all the problems of the world - or, at least, the Middle East.
Now - I put it to you - if we can live in peace and harmony with our Arab neighbors --- viz. the Israelis come to their village and eat in their restaurants - the Arabs respect the fact that - while we don't necessarily eat "kosher" - many of us still aren't willing to eat chametz during Pesach - and they go to the trouble to buy matza for us to eat during Pesach --- why can't we come to terms with a peaceful coexistence on a broader plane?
Very simplistic, I know - but we have to begin somewhere. Maybe matza instead of pita during Pesach is a good beginning.
Monday, April 02, 2007
TODAY'S THE DAY
So - what did I cook and bake?
270 Meringue cookies
90 Coconut Pyramids
2 Apple cakes
Countless kilos of driet fruit for compote
2 1/2 kilos (5 pounds) of gefilte fish
And where do you think all this is going? Some to Devora for tomorrow - some to Shosh for the Seder tonight - some to Marallyn - some to Yossi - some to Ros - and I took a big box of the cookies to the hairdresser yesterday. That's all folks!!
In a few hours I'll pack the food into the car and drive up to Even Yehuda to Ouri & Devora's. From there we'll drive in the evening to Ramat HaSharon for the Seder - then back to Even Yehuda. Then on Tuesday there is Devora's traditional day-after-the-Seder lunch. And then - back to Jerusalem.
Here's an interesting factoid (I hate that word but I wanted to use it just once - never again). As everyone is busy cooking and preparing for the Seder - the night before is one of the biggest night for the pizza places. Many of my friends had pizza for dinner last night. First - because you don't have to cook it - and second - people need their "chametz" (food that isn't kosher-for-Pesach -especially bread and wheat products) fix before the start of the Holiday. After all, you can't eat bread for eight days!!!
I, on the other hand, actually like matzoth - so for me it isn't an "onesh" (punishment) not to have bread. And as my friend, Yossi, says - "You can't eat gefilte fish without a nice piece of matza". I particularly love whole-wheat matzo - but I also bought a box of regular matzo so I can make Matzo Brei - one of the great taste treats of Pesach. By the way - once I tried making Matzo Brei during the year - not the same. You have to have it during Pesach.
Have a Happy Pesach - enjoy your friends and families - do eat too much - it's part of the tradition - and glory in the fact that the Jews - all over the world - are celebrating along with you.