Saturday, August 26, 2006
Friday, August 25, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
My First Ever CSA
I was reading Tigers & Strawberries the other day and noticed Vegetable Adventures post for The Spice is Right. Wanting to see what other Israeli's have to say, I peeked in and had a look-see. Inside was a link to Chubeza, an organic CSA that delivers in the Tel Aviv area.
"Hmmm", I said to myself, "too much for me… I am only one lonely little soul in my teeny tiny mouse house". Besides, I am not too fussed whether things are organic or not, rather the opposite really, as my pocketbook doesn't stretch too far and things organic (in Israel anyways) are usually at least 3 times the price of regular locally grown produce. Besides, organics are not easily found, and when you do find them they are sad, mangy, manky looking things.
But then I thought of my upstairs neighbour, (who shall be known in all further posts as SisteR) and how she tries very hard to do the right thing for her family, which often includes me.
When I asked if she might be interested in the caring-sharing CSA thing, not only did SisteR jump at the idea, but she made me turn my computer on right then and there and signed us up for a 4 week trial period.
That was on Friday, and yesterday there was a knock at SisteR's door and she was hand delivered a huge carton of stuff. Practically jumping up and down with excitement she called me at work to tell me about all of the goodies we had just received. She unpacked the box over the phone, exclaiming all the while at the quality and quantity. Romaine lettuce, cucumbers, oriental long beans, cherry and regular tomatoes, baby green onions, basil that scented the whole thing, carrots, butternut squash, eggplant, summer squash, potatoes, a melon and some grapes.
When she got to the grapes SisteR sounded very unenthusiastic, and when I finally got to her place in the evening, I could understand why. Tiny, soft, neither red nor green little balls tightly packed onto twiglets, they were not at all like the showpiece grapes that flaunt themselves from every neighbourhood fruit & veg stall at this time of year, and which practically fall over themselves trying to climb into your basket at the Carmel market. But when I put one in my mouth and the grapey flavour flooded over my tongue, I didn't mind that they had seeds, I didn't mind that they weren't pretty enough to be on the cover of a magazine, I didn't mind that their lack of sex-appeal meant they would never sell cars. These were grapes, not sugar packaged in neutered grape form.
Monday, August 21, 2006
The Breakfast That Didn't Happen
Helmet firmly fixed in place, sunglasses perched on my nose, I drove through the unusually quiet streets of downtown Tel Aviv making my way towards breakfast. As I avoided the buses that roared and weaved their way through the almost non-existent traffic (think of Ernie and the Knight Bus from Harry Potter and you have an idea of what Israeli bus driving is like!) I patted my back (in my head) and congratulated myself on the excellent batch of granola I had just made.
Still warm from the oven, a small bag was toasting the middle of my back as I evaded the grasping hand and overwhelming reek of a thin graying Gandalf wannabe. Past the sweet smell of the Elite factory as it turned out Cow Chocolate(unlike some connoisseurs, I can't tell from the smell whether it is regular, orange or exploding) it looked like clear sailing ahead. And then, the traffic jam…
You might think New York traffic jams like you see at the movies, neat rows of yellow taxis lined up like ducklings. Or you might think of the jostling traffic of Delhi or Mumbai, where you are never really stopped dead in your tracks and there is always a way through or around or over.
This, unfortunately, was nothing like those traffic jams… this was a "hefetz hashood" (חפץ חשוד) traffic jam.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a hefetz hashood is a suspicious object (a forgotten bag of groceries, or one of the 3 gym bags filled with laundry that someone was bringing home for mom to wash) that is usually left sitting amongst a crowd of people waiting for a bus.
Once this object is identified as being suspicious the police and bomb squad arrive in double quick time.
They stop traffic in both directions for a distance of about 200 metres from the forlorn package. Those who are stuck in traffic edge closer and closer to the car in front of them. Three lanes becomes four as people try to squeeze through the gaps. Within minutes there is nowhere for the cars and buses to go, so their occupants swing open their doors and crane their necks, trying to see what the problem is. Of course they make sure to leave the motor running so the air-conditioning can cool the outside and the inside of the car.
In the meantime, the bomb squad guys (in their oh so cute uniforms and protective headgear complete with shatterproof masks) maneuver their robotic counterpart towards the unsuspecting package. Sitting in their mobile control center they make their observations: size, height, circumference, weight, potential explosive power, all through the eyes of their robot. There is lots of whispered conversation and communications on their shoulder radios and walkie-talkies.
While all this is going on the scooteristes, such as myself, slowly weave their way past open doors, bus exhausts exhaling huge quantities of carbon monoxide and hot humid soot, we scrape between the cars that have decided to create a fourth lane, edging closer and closer to ground zero minus 200...
When we arrive we all jostle for the post position, eyes on the flag (well, the cop who will ultimately wave us forward). But after a minute or two, with the space between us decreasing and the number of us increasing, the first, most experienced rider, turns off his bike and lights a cigarette. Then the girl in the stilettos takes off her helmet and starts adjusting her makeup while others start talking on their cell phones. And everybody, the scooteristes, the drivers and passengers in the cars and buses, are thinking of one thing – the coffee they didn't have time for this morning.
Then the go is given, all eyes turn in the direction of the innocent package, a subdued bumph is heard (only very, very, very rarely do you get a big bang, but better safe than sorry…), the robots eye view of the scene is checked once more and the whispered radio talk reaches its climax. The scooteristes put on their helmets, the car drivers' start honking their horns, the buses rev their engines and finally, after being held up for 20 minutes, the race to be first at the next just-turning-red traffic light begins.
My stomach growls along with my scooter because it knows I won't have time for breakfast now. Oh well, at least I have granola for lunch.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Sunshine and melons, this is summer in Israel. The question is what to do with the abundance that threatens to take over the limited space in my fridge. The answer - melon daiquiries of course!
melon, vodka, icecubes, sugar syrup and lemon juice or homemade limoncello, no vodka, no lemon and less syrup - swirl it up in a blender, sit back and think "40 degrees in the shade and I couldn't be cooler!"
When the daiquiries threaten to overwhelm me with their abundance, I cut the melon into cubes and freeze them for later use as daiquirie fodder or tasty icecubes in lemonade.