Friday, June 21, 2013

Israel vs. America: Food Edition

On a normal day in America, most people eat lunch around noon or soon after that. On a normal day in Israel, most people eat lunch around 1 pm or so. Why the comparison? Well that's because my American life has been put on hold for the past week and a continuation into next week and I have taken up the Israeli lifestyle - living and volunteering in the small community of Netivot, Israel. After a long, hot, tiring but rewarding day of volunteering to build a community garden yesterday, I was excited for our day plan today, a tour of Netivot...and equally as excited for the air conditioned bus. From 9 am-1 pm we toured the city, seeing the religious and cultural landmarks. Israel's preservation of its history is unlike anything in America - learning about the places and then being able to physically go and see them is what is most special. After a long morning, lunch time was here - it was off to the "Sim Center", the central shopping mall in Netivot. A couple friends and I choose to eat at Cafe Greg, a small, coffee shop which also catered to our lunch needs. We started with a couple appetizers - small tiny twist pretzels and cut up vegetables sprinkled with salt and pepper. The carrots, cucumbers and red peppers, filled a white dish with color and crunch, and the sweet tomatoes burst in my mouth. For my meal, I chose a Black Lentil and Bulgar Wheat salad. In about 10 minutes, out comes a large, clear hollow bowl-plate filled to the top with food; a base layer of Lentils and Bulgar Wheat as well as all the mix-ins. Chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, chunks of sesame seed sweet potato, dried cranberries, drizzled in a dressing of lemon zest, olive oil and date honey - with shavings of mozzarella cheese on top. My eyes could hardly contain my mouth, I could not wait for the first bite, which was unreal. The crisp vegetables were crunchy and fresh, the cranberries tangy, the sweet potatoes were soft and melted in my mouth and the honey from the dressing added just a touch of sweetness to the salad. The salad got better bite after bite, the cheese helped to balance out all the ingredients by adding a bit of creaminess to it. I left the cafe feeling content, the perfect amount of full-ness and a container filled with leftovers. The wait for lunch was definitely worth it - delicious
flavors and good company. Plus, an incredible surrounding city of Netivot, where even though I am American, I instantly feel at home.