Foreign travels-4- Cultural Anthropology

I suppose that if we were a different sort of a family, our first time all together in nearly a year would involve all sorts of adventures.We are big on small adventures. Because so many of our family vacations have come with kitchens, supermarket shopping has always oddly been a highlight of our vacations. When we have vacationed in New Hampshire ( as we did for many years) the relatively enormous size of suburban supermarkets, compared to our tiny New York supermarkets has been a sort of natural exercise in cultural anthropology. 

When Kam Man, the Chinese supermarket, moved to my home town, my mother insisted on taking us on a visit. She loved showing us the display cases of pig butts and pig uteri."Isn't this great?" . It was great.

Israeli supermarkets are pretty terrific. I love seeing the variety of foods on the shelves. We could have purchased a can of kosher goulash from Russia. We didn't buy the delicious looking smoked Russian mackerel. The array of kosher prepared meat products is amazing, but the house we are staying in has a vegetarian kitchen. Even the packaged deli meat sandwiches at the gas stations are kosher.

Israel produces fabulous packaged chocolate puddings that my youngest lusts after. We can usually find one or two varieties in our neighborhood.  Here is a huge pudding section in nearly every market. We have sampled several. They are a bit rich for me, a taste will suffice for me, but my son is in heaven with the variety.

This is a country that loves it's dairy products. Supermarket variety packaged cheese is good. Labne, thickened yogurt cheese comes in many varieties. We are partial to the za'atar flavor. Feta comes in half a dozen varieties. Cottage cheese comes in the usual flavors as well as olive.

Food in supermarkets is both a reflection of Israel being a Middle Eastern country , as well as being a country of immigrants. Comfort food from all sorts of home countries is here on the supermarket shelves.Rssuan canned goods, Polish and Hungarian jams and preserved fruits are on the shelves I even saw jars of Manishevitz gefilte fish in one market, but I could never imagine being homesick for jarred gefilte fish. Candy from all over Europe is available. Chinese and Thai condiments, all packaged in Hebrew are available for sale as well.

My mother gave each of my kids spending money to use while they are here. My daughter, and my youngest who are coming back to New York with us, are planning to spend their money on packaged goods.They are trying to figure out how much chocolate they can fit into their suit cases.

Vegetables here are amazing. The cucumbers are tiny thin skinned, tender and delicious. I usually avoid tomatoes, but they are delicious here. I have been picking tomatoes and rosemary from the garden outside of the house we are renting.

Most astonishing to me, is that this house boasts a fig tree. Each morning before breakfast I go out and pick the ripe ones. Usually it's enough for each one of us who likes figs to get one or two. I tend to pick the figs when they are a bit under ripe. If I wait too long, the birds get them.The fig tree is right next to an olive tree. I don't know enough about olives to know when they are ripe and know nothing about curing them, so I just admire the olive laden branches.

The fig tree in "our'' yard
We are all still a bit giddy about how easy it is to eat kosher meat out. One thing we do plan to do is eat at a kosher Mc Donalds. we had seen one in Tiberius, but weren't hungry when we passed by. We have been eating lots of schwarma. We went to Zichron Yaakov today both to do the wine tours but also because my older son wanted to go back to the schwarma place he had gone to with a program nearly two years ago. The owner kept telling us he was "Number 1 in Israel", I don't know about that, but it was really good.

We actually do things other than visit supermarkets. But grocery stores always make us happy. We are a family that loves small pleasures.


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