Tuesday, April 29, 2008



Whew - that was a marathon. I shopped and cooked and cleaned and served and shopped some more and...and...and...and we ate and ate and ate. Diet time now.

Before you even ask - the Seder was wonderful. In addition to my old friends we also had a German journalist as a guest. So she didn't like it so much - what can we do? I think we were all aliens to her - despite the thumbnail sketches I gave her of all my guests - who are a pretty terrific lot I might tell you - the article she wrote about us made us look like a bunch of superficial idiots. That despite the fact that among us were three PhDs, one MD, several professionals, one artist, and two business people.When I took exception to the tone of the article she actually apologized - and journalists don't do that sort of thing. Yossi disinvited her to his kibbutz - and it takes a lot to make him angry. So we'll just forget about her and I'll tell you about the Seder.

There were twelve of us. Yossi conducted the Seder using my Haggada and one from his kibbutz. It was obvious he put a lot of work and thought into it - and it turned out beautifully. The evening was everything I could have wished for. Do you want to hear my menu? After the hard-boiled eggs and charoset (the mixture of apples, walnuts, cinnamon and sweet wine signifying mortar) and bitter herbs during the reading of the Haggada we ate: gefilte fish, chopped liver, chicken soup and knaidlach (matza balls), pickled tongue
, pot roast, sweet and sour red cabbage, broccomini (sort of like broccoli rabe but not bitter), mashed potatoes with fried onions, dried fruit compote and meringue cookies - every bit of it made by me. And matza and more matza and more matza. And wine - lots of it.

Everyone left by 1:30 AM but I was so up from the evening that I didn't get to bed until 4:00 AM.

And then it was chol ha moed (the intervening days of the holiday - until the last night on the following Friday). And every day there was something else. Out to lunches and dinners - all with my friends - and trying to get aroud in Jerusalem by car which was almost impossible. I think every Israeli not from Jerusalem came to visit. The police arbitrarily closed streets - one never knew from one minute to the next which street was going to be closed off - for whatever reason. We were never told. We arrived late to each and every appointment. But what fun we had.

Then it was Friday - the last night of chag (holiday) for Israelis. So, of course, it was time for me to do another dinner. This one was very simple. Menu? OK. An orange soup - carrots, sweet potatoes and dalorit (a kind of squash) with coconut cream, rolled turkey roast, fresh asparagus, roasted potatoes, apple cake and tea with nana (mint). And more matza. And more wine.

Now it's acharay ha chag (after the holiday). Remember I once told you that in Israel everything is either acharay ha chag or lifnay ha chag (before the holiday) - either way nothing ever gets done. Anyway - it's acharay and time for my diet to begin. However - Ros and I went out to lunch yesterday and ate all the things we didn't get to eat during Pesach - and tomorrow night Yoav and Ernesto are having a dinner party. There goes the diet again. It will have to be acharay acharay.

Yalla, Bye.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008



With all the balagan (mess, turmoil) in this run-up week to Pesach two very nice things have happened to me - well, three actually. My US tax returns have been finished on time and are in the mail to the relevant parties in the States. Yes, I'm feeling very poor today in case you're interested - I can put the money to better use than the U.S. government can - believe me.

The second perfect thing - or maybe it should be the first perfect thing - is that my new car arrived yesterday. It is gorgeous - lovely - beautiful - and brand spanking new. It even has that sexy new-car smell. It's silver and is shiny and clean and arrived with only 12 kilometres on it - it was only driven from "there" to "here" - right in front of my house. Now - that's what I call service.

Nevermind that it has so many bells and whistles that it will take me forever to figure it out. There is, of course, a driving mode for going downhill on a highway. But - there is also a driving mode for driving early in the morning and for driving in underground garages. Who knew?

ELDAN (the company who leases me my car) called me last week to ask me if I wanted them to install a flech - flach? - floch? ( the thingie to which you attach your diburit [speaker for the cellular phone]). "A what?" I asked. Never heard that word before - I think it's a flech - but I'm not sure. Anyway - they installed it and today I'm having the diburit installed. It's highly illegal - not to mention very expensive if you are caught - to speak on a hand-held phone while driving. Just one more thing to do before I have to begin cooking for the Seder.

And the third lovely event is that a journalist from Germany who is working at HAARETZ - one of our national newspapers - found my blogs and liked what she read. She called me and asked to meet with me so I could explain Pesach to her - which is very complicated, if you remember reading my last year's Pesach blog....Ashkenazi - Sepharadi - customs - foods. We had lunch this week at "Caffit" - of course at "Caffit" - where else - and she was so charming and so interesting that I invited her to the Seder. She's going to write about Pesach for her paper in Germany so I thought she might as well see - and be part of - the "real thing". An exciting benefit to writing a blog. And really fitting as I lived in Germany for more than two years and celebrated two Seders there.

I'm just carrying on a family tradition as my Mom very often invited strangers to our Seders. It should be an interesting Seder as we will be such a diverse group of people. And now I'd better get on with my day - there are a million things to do before I begin the massive cooking and preparing. The soup is already made and in the freezer - as is the sweet and sour red cabbage. That only leaves fourteen more things to cook! Hope I'm ready on time.

Hag Sameach (Happy Holiday).

Yalla, Bye.

Friday, April 11, 2008



Do you remember the old song "Dance with me Henry"? Just call this "Write to me Julie"!

Those of you who read this blog regularly know I have two major failings. I have absolutely no Choosh Kivoon (sense of direction). And - I am utterly and completely lacking in any understanding of anything technological or technical - are they the same thing?

Anyway - yesterday I received a "comment" on my blogs from Julie - which I wanted to answer. I clicked on "moderate this comment" - nothing. I clicked on"publish this comment" - also nothing. I tried to reply to the comment - a further nothing. How will I get in touch with Julie?

What to do? I know - I'll write another blog.

So this blog is to Julie. Julie and her husband are coming to Israel for a visit and would like to hang out with me at my favorite cafe, "Caffit". She loves my blogs and my descriptions of food - long slow-cooked meals like my Chicken Fricassee. We can hang out and talk of this and that - and food - and my trip to the shuk (outdoor market) yesterday with Yoav and Ernesto - which was the most fun I ever had at the shuk.

So Julie - please write to me again and give me your email address. I'd love to hang out with you. And wish you a very Happy Birthday in person.

And do you notice that the font in this blog has now become italic? I'm telling you - there are gremlins in my life - I simply cannot get the font back to regular "ariel". I'm sure any normal person could get the font back - but I? - I simply just can't do it.

Yalla, Bye.

Sunday, April 06, 2008



And just why - you might ask yourself - am I writing this at almost two o'clock in the morning? Because a water pipe burst in the garden next to mine - and as I'm the Rosh Va'ad (Head of the Building Committee) it is - automatically - my fault. And because it's my fault - the neighbors are calling me - they are ringing my doorbell (very loudly and insistently) - they are trekking through my flat to the garden - and yelling at me - and yelling and yelling.

Like it's my fault. Well, isn't it? My plumber - Yossi - is a star - he showed up to shut off the water - in the middle of the night, noch (Yiddish for yet) - and was actually pleasant about it. How about that?

So - the water is now turned off. The building is, once again, quiet. Everyone seems to have gone back to sleep. And here I am - up and writing.

While I'm up I'll tell you about Samuel's birthday party. A real run-up to Pesach. Samuel is a first cousin to Stewart - whose birthday party I attended in London two months ago. Samuel celebrated his 60th birthday and also the 30th anniversary of his aliyah (immigration to Israel). And all of the family I was with in London arrived to celebrate with him. Because, not only was it his big celebration but also the wedding of another relative which will take place on Monday. So that this wonderful close-knit family is together, once again - and once again made the trek from London and France and Hong Kong. We Israelis are lucky this time - we only had to drive from Jerusalem and other cities in Israel. Beats flying these days.

And my friends, Pearl and Stewart, are here and will stay on for Pesach. Which is why the Seder will be at my house this year. Everything is tied in to everything else. And the party was only the first of the many get-togethers we will have until the end of April.

The party was in Tel Aviv - actually on the outskirts of Tel Aviv - and I drove there and back and didn't get lost once! That was something of an achievement for me - as you'll know from reading these blogs. Loads of fun people - really good food - dancing to 60's music - a great way to spend a Friday afternoon.

It's now less than two weeks to Pesach. The fish - for gefilte fish - is in the freezer. I already ordered the meat from the butcher. My lists are growing each day. This week the supermarket will have all the Pesach products on the shelves - time for the big shop. All the matzot and matza meal and matza cake flour and potato starch - remember? - no wheat flour and related products. No soya sauce. No icing sugar. No - etc etc etc. My favorite Passover cookbook is on my desk and all of my favorite recipes are ready and waiting.

If the spring rains ever stop my window washer is ready to come - you have to have clean windows for Pesach. Have to get rid of all the chametz (everything that's not kosher-for-Pesach). And once everything is ready - I'll begin my cooking and baking marathon.

I'm beginning to get sleepy - at last. Have to go to bed as the plumber is coming back first thing in the morning. And I must remember not to flush the toilets unless it's something "important" - we have no water. Can you make coffee with Coca-Cola?

Yalla, Bye.

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