Monday, July 07, 2008



Last week my cousin's daughter got married - of course the wedding was miles and miles from my home. Why should it be otherwise? I've only been to three weddings in Jerusalem itself and tthree weddings in "the vicinity" - which means I had to drive for less than one hour.

This wedding was gorgeous - and one of the happiest and jolliest weddings I have ever attended. And - for the most part - the people really dressed up. True - there were some jeans and crop-tops - and an aunt of the bride actually wore blue trousers and her son's cast-off T-shirt. But that's her style - and nothing is ever going to change her.

I was invited to dress at my cousin's house instead of driving for hours in all my finery. My cousin is such a lady - and with such good taste. She knows that I hate to arrive at a big function all alone and so she said to change my clothes at her house, sleep over after the wedding - and we'd all drive to the wedding together. How graceful she is. And how grateful I was. There she was - organizing this event for three-hundred people and also thinking of me.

And she looked gorgeous - as did the bride - who is gorgeous anyway - and her sister - who is also gorgeous anyway.

Everything has changed over the course of the years I've been here - even catering. Weddings used to be interchangeable - all the food was the same and all served the same way. Burgundy table cloths, lots and lots of food at the kabbalat panim (reception) before the chuppa (wedding ceremony) - so that when it was time for the dinner it was impossible to eat a thing. Which didn't matter as the food was usually awful - little oval dishes with indifferent salataim (salads) already on the table, a choice of fish or puff pastry stuffed with liver for the starter and for the main course a choice of reva off (quarter chicken) or tough and stringy pot roast. And the tosafot (side dishes) - all on platters in the center of the table - roast potatoes, rice, grey string beans - you get the picture.

Instead of a lot of heavy food for the reception, waiters passed around light h'ors d'oeuvres - delicious goodies such as kebabs on cinnamon sticks, ceviche in martini glasses, mini vol au vent shells with liver pate and phyllo dough packets with portobello mushrooms which looked like wrapped candies.

But the main courses were something else. Buffet-sit down - white table cloths - glass bowls filled with pebbles and candles - and "stations" to get your food around the perimeter of the room. But each station had another complete main course. With people serving and arranging the portions beautifully so that the guests didn't walk away with their plates looking like an archeological dig - you've seen that awful sight - salads and vegetables and fish and meat and... and... and...all piled on top of each other willy-nilly in case you might miss something.

And the plates were different at each station to fit the food - square plates with a delicate mixture of diced vegetables topped with a filet of succulent fish - large round bowls with a bed of red lentils topped with beautifully roasted eggplant topped with a mixture of chickpeas and pargiot (boned chicken thighs) topped with baby greens and a delicate dressing (one of the most beautifully presented and delectable dishes I have ever eaten!) - round plates with entrecote steak served with roasted potatoes and pears(!) - larger round plates on which was an "order" of 'burgers and chips (french fries) all properly garnished - and smaller bowls with noodles and rice and stir-fried vegetables in a coconut milk sauce. On each table was an assortment of square bowls with beautiful and tasty and original salads. I could have made a meal of the salads alone.

For dessert there was a coffee bar set up with baristas preparing espresso - and teas - and butz (a particularly Israeli coffee which looks like mud - which is what butz means). And, again, pass-around platters of miniature desserts - as many of us had dispersed to the tables and sofas set up outside - and so that people could sample lots of things.

A nice touch - a red wheel barrow filled with shiny buckets of all kinds of candies was set out for all the noshers after dinner.

The bride and groom were adorable - the guests had fun - the food was delicious - the taklitan (DJ) was great - the music was wonderful - a perfect start to what I hope will be a perfect life for the young couple.

Yalla, Bye.

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