Food Glorious Food

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will now rain down bread

from heaven for you.  Each day the people are to go

out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them,

to see whether they follow my instructions or not.

Exodus 16:4

I first have to admit that I ate way more than my daily portion while I was in Israel.  The food… oh, the food!

To be honest, I was wary when I was doing my research for our pilgrimage as to whether I would want to eat in the Holy Land at all.  I was reading an awful lot about this stuff called falafel.  What on earth is falafel I wanted to ask. And by the way just exactly how do you pronounce it?  In case you happen to be wondering these same things, let me tell you.  Falafel is pronounced fa-la-fel.  The accent is on the la.  Fa-LA-fel.  It is fried chickpea balls stuffed in pita bread.  Yummy, right?  Ughhhh!!!  Not what I thought.  In fact I was thinking it was pretty gross sounding.

And then there was this hummus stuff I heard everyone talking about.  I knew how to say hummus, but again, I didn’t know what it is.  Turns out hummus is smashed up chickpeas served with pita.  Oh yummy again!

Chickpeas?  Really?  I kind of thought we were going to the land of milk and honey here…

Well, I am here to tell you that chickpeas, yes chickpeas are probably about the best thing I have ever eaten in my entire life.  Of course, no one in my family agreed with me on this, but hey, you can’t win them all…

I ordered my first hummus “salad” one day in the old city of Jerusalem in a little restaurant right inside the Jaffa gate.  I thought: hmmm.. salad, there will be lettuce, vegetables, maybe something green.  I was wrong.  Hummus salad is a big plate of smashed chickpeas drizzled with olive oil and served with a huge basket of warm, fresh pita to scoop it up with.  (Sometimes this hummus salad comes with the unfortunate chicken livers piled on top.  THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING!  Beware the chicken livers!)  I have tried the hummus back here at home from the grocery store.  It does not even compare!

Oh and I remember my first falafel like it was yesterday.  It is one of the most profound memories of my trip.  We were in Tiberias, heading back after swimming in the Sea of Galilee.  Starving, we found a little hole in the wall where the owner spoke English (always a plus).  The girls ordered huge hotdogs, but I went for the fried chickpea balls in the pita.  I get a little bit teary just thinking about this, so bear with me.  I asked the guy at the restaurant how a local would eat it and he started piling on stuff.  I don’t know what all went on, but there was salad (tomatoes and cucumbers), pickles and tahini for sure.  You have not lived until you have eaten this.  Seriously.  I truly felt that I had died and gone to heaven.  I only had one more opportunity to eat falafel while I was in Israel, but I am on the search for some here in the States.  If you know of a place, please let me know!

There is so much more to write about the food there.  This does not even begin to cover it.  I didn’t even get to mention the chickpea candy…  But, that is all for another time.

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