As soon as I got home from Israel, I did a bit of retail therapy in the spirit of Valentine’s Day.
Last year, for Valentine’s Day, I ordered Marcus and I Some Indian Cookbook That I Think We Have Used Once and The Homesick Texan.
Obviously, there was a measure of success there.
So it only made sense to keep the culinary karmic streak alive.
This year’s books?
The Smitten Kitchen and Jerusalem.
There’s a lot to say about The Smitten Kitchen .(it was actually the first book I thought to order back in December), but today I want to talk about Jerusalem.
And so our stories begin.
While we were on our trip, we had 10 “independent” meals. Which is to say that every other meal we ate was for the most part, in a hotel or on a kibbutz.
Yes, the provided food was “fine,” but it was by no means the cultural highlight of the trip.
There were a number of meals that were wonderful. The falafel Yair sourced at the market in Tel Aviv that were fried in front of us. The cafeteria-style restaurant at the very end of the road that Adi lead us to that served (red) kubbeh.
Kubbeh is a beet soup with meat-stuffed dumplings.
But the best meal? Was eaten at a long table in the middle of a courtyard off of Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem. Adi brought probably 10 of us to a small restaurant and after arguing in the Israeli way with the owner, negotiated a 60 shekel (~$20)/head festival of food.
And as soon as we had managed to settle ourselves around the table, the plates started coming in a continuous stream that did not stop for the better part of an hour. There were pitas and hummus. Salads and pickles. Falafels. Three kinds of rice. Stews. Grilled meats. Eggplants stuffed every way. Kubbeh. Meatballs. Beans.
We passed and picked. Slurped and grinned at one another. This was exactly the kind of meal we had come to Israel to eat.
There were a lot of things I appreciated being able to see on my own in Israel: Masada, The Dead Sea, The Western Wall. I missed Marcus, but I think that experiencing those places on my own terms was an invaluable experience.
The food? Is something I would have loved to be able to share with him.
So instead, I will share it with him now.