For the Love of Hummus

Delicious, delicious hummus.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Are we supposed to call this a roundup?

Dear faithful readers,

As the title suggests, I'm a bit wary in approaching a label for this post. I've been in America for a bit under a month now, slowly getting into the swing of things - home, the gym, driving a car, the total lack of edible hummus, you know. All the important things.

Before I wax poetic, a few important things need to be picked up right where we last left off:

1. The day after we ate that monstrously delicious hummus in Cafe Mizrahi in the shuk, we joined Ruthie and her fearless food guide, Ben, for a northern tiyul to Nazareth - chiefly, to experience the spice Mecca that is the El Babour spice emporium. It did not disappoint. We watched them make fresh za'atar, sampled all sorts of nuts and fruits, and fantasized about all of the things you could make with that many spices.

2. We ate many delicious salatim, some savory kebabs on cinammon sticks and a whole trout (really, the whole thing. I ate an eyeball by accident. Slimy, a little chewy, but overall innocuous). We also caught the Church of the Annunciation and some lovely signs about how if you aren't Muslim, you're a big fat loser. Nice to know that I can remedy my loser status with just a few prayers of submission.

3. My last day in country was relaxing, emotional, intense, but the more I think about it, passed with absolutely no feeling of finality, for which I am very thankful. Rachel and I had breakfast at Cafe Bagina (cue the Austin Powers-esque pronunciation), wandered down to Yad Lakashish and made some important purchases, stopped in to Ma'aleh film school (remember Rachel's article? Here it is, in case you forgot: ), took a peek at the Ministry of Sports and Culture (but why the two always together?) and got a few snacks at the shuk.

4. The sendoff I got from the sheirut driver to the airport far exceeded my expectations. First he yelled at me for having too many bags,then was ready to murder me when he realized the street was one way. He asked me if I knew where the next pickup street was, which I did. I directed us back to Baka, until he discovered he'd said the wrong street name. I'll spare you the rest of the details, like how he told a group of seminary girls to stop saying goodbye to their friend because she wouldn't miss them anyway, and just tell you that it took us TWO HOURS to get out of the city. As I dragged my 5 bags away from the curb at Ben Gurion, he shook his head through his open window at me and sped off. The perfect farewell.

So where are we now? Well, I seem to be setting myself up for a culinary career, and plan to move to the city in about a month. I'll be less stingy with details as it becomes finalized. Right now I want to jump to the poetry, and plan on waxing it for a little while.

I have to start with that photograph, which is actually of a photograph. That is my favorite work by Toby Cohen, called The Flying Sukkah. For me it symbolizes a lot of things about Israel, and I have a panoramic post card with that print on one side from his opening last May. (See more of his work here: )

Memory is a powerful thing. I'm not the first person to say it or realize it, but living in Israel, and I think I can safely say in Jerusalem, is an intensely vivid experience. And no, I'm not talking about the 'big' memories, like reading Torah with Women of the Wall, walking in the streets on Yom Kippur, or hiking Monfort in 100 degree heat. Those are memories I can pull in and push back, that I can describe in a story with ease.

The memories I'm talking about are the ones that just pop in when I close my eyes, smell something, hear a tune. For whatever reason, they are little bits I've held onto even without realizing it.

I hear the radio tuning through stations and it's a hot September afternoon, I'm waiting for Rachel outside of her internship and trying to find Galgalatz on my iPod, thinking about pizza.

They're talking on the news about the biggest full moon in years, and suddenly I'm on the bridge to the Cinematheque, watching a full moon just hang over the Old City walls, in the way it can only on a clear night over Jerusalem.

I smell instant coffee and I'm standing in my kitchen, waiting for the click of the electric kettle and watching the national religious women walk in and out of the small female college across the alley.

Tomer Yosef came up on my playlist and there I am on the bus back from Tel Aviv, marking my distance by the bridge they built for the new intercity train route, deserted during the day and nearly invisible at night.

I don't know that these were important moments, or if my brain just fires them off precisely because they are never the ones for which I reach. When I see them it's completely real, happening in front of me at that very second. In most memories, I think we see what happened as if we're out of our bodies, watching ourselves in the scene. I see these as if through myself. In a way, it's like they haven't stopped happening since they've started.

If you waited on HaRakevet right now, I'd pop out of that little alleyway any second, cross the muddy tracks and pick up the pace, wondering what to make for dinner, just like I'm still there.


  1. This is a beautiful post, and a pleasure to read.

  2. I just read this. Ditto what Betsey wrote. Really, really nice.