Sunday, August 1, 2010

Food! Glorious Food!

Bonus points if you can tell me the movie I took the post title from. :) I will give the correct answer in my next post. Claire and I went to the open air market this past Friday morning so now it's time for the post on food.

First off I'd like to talk about the grocery store. There is a security guard at the door that checks your bag as you go in. If you want to use a shopping cart you have to pay 5 NIS. I have my own cloth shopping bags that I use to avoid having to use the shopping cart. In Israel there is no Wal-mart equivalent you cannot find everything at one store. For example if you want to buy makeup, over the counter medicine, vitamins or sunblock you have to go to the pharmacy you can't find those items at the grocery store. The grocery store is smaller than the stores in America and they run out of some of there items. They do not restock the store every night so sometimes the particular item your looking for isn't in stock and might not be for days. Hummus is one of the biggest items here. Hummus is made from chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. Hummus has its own section and there are lots of options to choose from. You can buy hummus by the kilo. Hummus can be eaten with just about everything. When my roommate asked one Israeli is there anything you wouldn't eat hummus with they replied cheese. The picture above is my favorite brand of hummus. It's really good on sandwiches. Before I forget to mention it all the food in the grocery store follows the Kosher food laws. I haven't figured out all of the Kosher laws yet so I don't know what makes food kosher or not. The food here is really fresh no preservatives are used in anything. This takes some getting used to a loaf of bread if not placed in the fridge can go bad in less than a week. They don't have any of the brands of bread we have back home. I think all the bread comes from local bakeries you can't always find the same kind every trip.

Of course I have to show you every college students best friend....Ramen!There are many different kinds of Ramen but I decided to show just one.

Here we have a local brand of cinnamon toast crunch.

Any cereal that is made by General Mills in the United States has Nestle on it here. This one is to show you they have product placement here too. Shrek is on everything in the grocery store from cereal,ketchup and bags of rice. The toy that came in this box was Puss in Boots you have to color the figure in yourself. This would not go over well in the states. To head off the questions No I have not colored him in yet and yes I am going to try to get the set.

To the right we have the fast food of Israel. This is a falafel. The little ball on top is a falafel it's basically fried hummus with a few herbs in it. You start with pita bread put hummus inside add falafel balls then a salad mix, pickles, and french fries. This is what I like in mine anyway. The french fries are not traditionally part of the falafel but I don't care they are so good. It comes in a little wax paper pocket for an extra refined dining experience. The price of falafel varies depending on where you buy it. On french hill it's 10 NIS. The best falafel in Jerusalem is the stand just inside Damascus gate and there it is only 7 NIS. All the guide books agreed Damascus gate falafel is the best. So far I agreed with them.

Now for the market the best time to go is early Friday morning it's the most crowded then but you get the true market experience. Everyone is trying to get their shopping done before Shabbat starts.
Almost everyone that goes to the market has one of these two wheeled shopping carts to carry their purchases. If you don't already have one you can buy one at the market. It works great for carrying everything but it can be tricky weaving through the crowds.

Here is the covered section of the market. Claire and I arrived a little after eight in the morning so the crowds weren't there yet. As it gets busier vendors start yelling their prices for different items. Most of them are family businesses so you will hear little boys yelling prices at the top of their lungs. Everything in the market is priced very cheap so you do not haggle for price here. It is somewhat difficult if you do not speak Hebrew many of the vendors do not know English numbers to tell you the price of something. Lucky for me Claire already knows some Hebrew so she could tell me the prices of things.

This is the uncovered section of the market. We had to watch out for delivery trucks driving through the crowds honking at the shoppers to get out of the way.

This is from one of the spice vendors shops. They are lined with bags like this and containers filled with fresh spices sold by weight. If you are looking for specific spices it helps if you look up the Hebrew name for the spice before going to the market. Be prepared though sometimes the name the dictionary gives you is not the name that they commonly use.

The bakery vendors are a treat to see as well. ;) Here are the cookies I purchased. They were also selling pastries but the pastries had bumblebees flying around them so I decided it was just going to be cookies for me. The white cookies are marsh-mellow like in taste and very sweet. The rest of the cookies are not very sweet at all. The two stick ones and the giant round one are short bread cookies. The heart shaped ones remind me of the texture of cinnamon rolls just dried out but they just had sugar on them. The ones with swirls are chocolate and shortbread. The dark ones are chocolate. The identical ones on opposite sides of the plate are filled with fig and dusted on the top with flour. All these cookies just cost 10 NIS or about $2.50.

Okay you can't really tell what I took a picture of here. This is a health food store. This entire shelf is full of gluten free products. I was surprised they had some selection so I took a picture to share.

Goat yogurt bought at the health food store. This is made from goats in a local village outside Jerusalem. It's very fresh and the best brand of goat yogurt I've had so far.

These are figs Claire bought in the market. I had never seen a fig before. I had previously only encountered figs as cookie filling. So if you ever wondered what figs look like here you go.

Here we have my first attempt at cooking here in Israel. Claire helped by chopping up almost everything. This is Ethiopian Vegetable stew I got the recipe from the Israel cookbook I got in the old city a few weeks ago. Like most recipes for this country it starts off with chopping up onions and garlic and sauteing them. The onions here are super fresh cutting into them they burn your eyes. It feels like you got acid in your eyes they burn so bad. I guess I've never seen a fresh onion in the United States. The stew contains onion, garlic, carrots,potatoes, half a head of cabbage turmeric(which makes it yellow), and a few other spices.

Questions from the last post:
Amanda- I know you didn't have a question. I just wanted to say the history here is amazing. Everywhere I go there is a story about what is in the location now and all the things that used to be in the same place. I'm looking forward to exploring everything.

Uncle Joe- To me the Dead Sea smelled like salt but more intense than the ocean. It's similar smelling to brine. There was no smell of dead or decaying things like I was expecting. I let the sandals I wore in the Dead Sea to air dry and salt crystals were left behind they still feel slimy I'm going to have to wash them off.

Mom- I'm not sure where King Herod's servants got the wood for the baths. Masada is in the middle of the desert with no trees. It was probably brought in from far away at great expense. There was no water in any of the cisterns at Masada. Water is scarce in Israel so they have likely prevented water from staying in the cisterns. According to our tour guide that day the next big war in the Middle East is going to be fought over water rights. I would recommend the sunrise walk up Masada for anyone that is physically fit enough. The sight of the sun rising over the Dead Sea was breath taking. Plus you can tour Masada before the heat of the day hits.


  1. Sounds and looks delish. No wonder so much of their religious festivals involve fasting. If they didn't they all get too fat!

    Based on your earlier entry, I figured I'd try hummus. It's pretty good as a substitute for bean dip with tortillas but I wish I could have fresh-fried falafel. BTW - do they really pronounce that something like foul-awful? Is their fry oil only used for the falafel. If so, you could invite your mom to dinner some day.

    Spoiler -- answer below.
    The quote/title of this blog post is from Oliver. Of course that was such a popular movie/musical that it got into pop culture so it's been seen elsewhere. Hope you aren't pathetically going up to your instructors and saying, "Please sir, could I have some more?" Or the Hebrew equivalent.

    Have joy and calories, AC.

  2. My attempt to answer the question without letting the cat out of the bag didn't work out too well. Sorry. But I did have another question (surprise!) when I looked again at the packaging. Here, when it's kosher it says "pareve" somewhere on the package. Does it have the Hebrew version of that somewhere on the package or do you assume it's kosher unless it says it isn't?

    Also, I'm guessing they fry the falafel in corn oil since it's kosher. Is that right?

  3. What fun going to the market for groceries. I liked seeing the packages of food and appreciate knowing they have gluten free options for people like me. The goats yogurt looks like it is a drink bottle so do you drink it? Smart idea to get an Israeli cook book. Tasty looking stew. My guess at the movie you took the title from for your blog is the Disney movie "Beauty and the Beast". I thought the line was sung during food preparations when Belle was at the Beasts castle. I really am enjoying your blog. Keep it coming.


  4. CHARLIE!!!!

    I'm so glad that you made it to Israel. I know that you were having a tough strain of icky sickness. It was probably the Atlantians that made you sick.

    ^_^ Look forward to reading more

  5. Going grocery shopping in different countries is one of my favorite things to do! It's nice that you have some familiar things like cereals that you can eat if you feel a little home sick. Cereal is something that we don't have much of here in Japan. All we really have is cornflakes.

    Great post and loved this look into this part of your daily life! Keep us updated on any good recipes you find!

  6. Another great post! It's great fun to see the things you see. The falafel looks yummy!
    How do you handle keeping things cool when you're shopping? I'm assuming that goat yogurt has to be refrigerated, and other things as well. Is it a long trek to the market and back? And, how big is your refrigerator? With 3 of you in the apartment, do you have room for everything?