Saturday, June 26, 2010
Return to Reality
I'm back! And no, I didn't just randomly disappear. I've been on the vacation of a lifetime! On June 11, Paul and I, along with 140+ of our closest friends, left for Israel. We spent the next 9 days exploring, learning, discovering, and having a life-changing experience in the land where Jesus walked.
I'm not going to chronicle the whole experience on this blog, but I do want to share the highlights of the food. Oh, the food! Now, I knew I loved Middle Eastern food (especially falafel!) and I knew this was going to be a treat in that regard, but man, oh man, did it exceed my expectations! All you vegetarians and vegans out there know how hard it can be to travel and eat well. Not on this trip! This was vegan paradise!
We stayed in four different hotels, and in each one of them, the food was amazing! They provided extravagant buffets with vegetables and salads and breads and desserts. Oh my, you have never seen such breads and deserts! (I sound like the food addict, don't I?!?)
While we traveled pretty much the entire length and breadth of the country, our primary stops were in Tel Aviv, Tiberias (on the Sea of Galilee), the Dead Sea, and then Jerusalem. The touring and sight-seeing were non-stop and we crammed a whole lot of places into those few short days. I could have easily stayed a week at each location.
A couple of food discoveries I made were za'atar, a hyssop (or thyme) spice combination that is awesome, and schug, a green chili sauce that is HOT! I brought some of the za'atar home with me and have already used up about half of it. It is delicious on salads, sandwiches, or used to make a salad dressing. And I made schug this week for the first time. A little of that stuff goes a looooong way! I'll be posting the recipe for both on my next post.
So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are food photos from Israel. (With a few non-food photos thrown in just for fun!)
Oh - and just in case anybody doesn't get it, falafel is my FAVORITE food! If you've never eaten this culinary delight, it is deep-fried balls of mashed chickpeas stuffed in pitas with hummus, various salads, tahini sauce, and optional schug. Never had falafel? Find your nearest Middle Eastern restaurant and discover it TODAY!!
The market in Old Jerusalem. I so want to shop like this all the time!
More of the market. This was one of my very favorite parts of the trip. The senses were overwhelmed by the sights, the sounds, and the smells!
Trying to beat the heat. It was up to 117 degrees in the desert.
A spice shop in Old Jerusalem. I wanted everything in there!! The smell was indescribable!
The pyramid is made from spices! Cool, huh?!?
A view of the Negev from Masada
At the Dead Sea - this is the man who used to weigh 432 pounds!
Floating in the Dead Sea
Paul eating falafel from a street vendor in Old Jerusalem.
Me waiting (impatiently) on falafel........
From the hotel in Jerusalem.
Yes, that's me and Paul on a camel in the desert........ And afterward we were served a wonderful meal by the Bedouins. Didn't post the food photos because they were rather dark, and because there was meat on the trays with which they served (no, we didn't eat it, but it was in the photos.)
At the Bedouin camp. Amazing how much cooler it was under the tents!
Just in case you wondered........ The kosher ones do not serve cheeseburgers. Jewish dietary laws forbid eating meat with the cheese from the same animal.
From the restaurant at the Dead Sea......
Falafel at Qumran. This was the very best falafel of the trip!
A beautiful display of some of the locally grown veggies served at every meal, including breakfast.
From the restaurant in Jerusalem........
A little restaurant on the Jordan River. A fellow UPSer and his beautiful family.
And yes, more falafel!
Yummy curried carrot salad. There will be a post on this soon!
The chef at this little family-run restaurant near Mt. Carmel. See the spread below.
This goes in your pita with falafel.
From the hotel in Tiberias, on the Sea of Galilee.
A little cafe in Old Jerusalem. Guess what we ate......
And finally..... they do love Elvis in Israel. Who knew???