What better way to celebrate than to talk about food? My sister-in-law, Tara, is one of the skinniest people I know, but she's also one of those people who loves to eat and talk about food and she has requested that I share some of what we eat here. Your wish is my command.
We eat A LOT of pita. I just have to put that out there. We basically use it like Americans use bread, for everything from peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, to replacing buns for our hamburgers. It must be said that pita is monumentally different here than in the U.S. It's a very soft flatbread here, and you can often buy it fresh.
And with pita, inevitably comes hummus. As would be expected, they have some smokin' good hummus here. And just in case you're wanting to venture out and buy hummus back in the states - don't. It's disgusting. The only good brand we ever found was Meza, but it's hard to find. If you're going to do it, make it. Find a good recipe online that basically has garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. If it has much else, steer clear. You've been warned.
Next thing on the list would probably be produce. As I've mentioned before, food is SO EXPENSIVE, can I say it again, SO EXPENSIVE here. We spend more at the grocery store here than we do on rent, which is saying a lot. But produce is one thing that is a little bit of a better deal. We buy lots of cucumbers, pears, bananas, potatoes, onions, apples, or whatever else is in season.
If you'd like to put the above three things together, you have the cucumber and hummas pita sandwich. It's pretty tasty. Yes, I'm serious.
Cheese here leaves much to be desired. The only local cheese we can stand at our nearby store costs more than our first born. But we buy it anyway because we're cheese people and it's as good as it gets here. Unless you buy imported cheese. But if we're forking over that much cash, we may as well just retire early.
We also eat a lot of lamb. It's the one meat that seems to be a little bit cheaper. I often throw some of that in a fry pan with some olive oil, onion, and red pepper. We then stuff that in a pita with some hummus, and there ya go.
I make A LOT of soups. It's a good way to make use of produce, and still have it be kid friendly. One of our favorites is kind of a combo of this one and this one, but we make them with the above mentioned lamb instead of sausage or turkey. A few of our other faves are my sister Becky's amazing Corn Chowder, and an albino chili recipe we got from a senior sister serving at the Jerusalem Center.
We also flavor things up with a new homemade BBQ sauce recipe I found. Remember when I was so excited to find BBQ sauce at a store here? I think that jar is still sitting in our fridge, hardly touched. So, just as I have had to learn how to pop popcorn in a pan, or make my own hot chocolate and Lawry's season salt (not together), I also must make my own BBQ sauce. But it's so good it's actually worth it.
So as you can see, I still try to find ways to eat some familiar foods, but have a few things here and there that make our eating experience here a little different than it used to be.
Now, on to falafel. I know, Tara, you were waiting for me to say that. For those of you who don't know, falafel is a very Middle Eastern food that the Jews act like is theirs, but the Arabs make a point to let you know it came from them. It consists of little balls of ground up, seasoned, fried fava beans or chickpeas stuffed into pita, and garnished with any of the following condiments - hummus (you knew that was coming), cucumbers, pickles, onions, french fries, tahina (not to be confused with tahini), hot sauce, fried eggplant, and pickled olives. There are falafel stands all over the place, and each of the ones we've tried, seem to have some sort of signature sauce or condiment that makes their's a little different. So it's not always exactly the same, and I am no expert, but this is how we do falafel in our house......
That bag has the mix to make the balls. You mix it in with some water, let sit for 8 minutes, then roll into little balls. They're usually deep fried, but I just pan fry them in a little bit of oil to cut down on the grease.
Here is our table just before eating - hummus, falafel balls, oven baked fries, tahina, whole-wheat pita, pickles, cucumber, and onions.