Monday, September 3, 2007

Three Meals

Breakfast

- at Abu Hassan's hummous place, in my neighborhood -a temple. The only side order you get with your hummous is an unpeeled, barely cut onion. The orders are yelled over your head back and fourth. The hummous itself is served as "mesabha", warm and thick, almost soupy for all the olive oil they add to it. It's spiced with cumin and paprika. Eating with me is Alon, the photographer working with me on a new travel book. He will soon drive us to have

Lunch

- at a desolate diner in the heart of the desert, on the outskirts of Yeroham. We are served shakshouka in French bread and a spicy salad by a mostly toothless man in a white beret. On the wall are pictures of the "Baba Sali" a holy man revered by Jewish Moroccans. Yeroham is a town divided between people of Moroccan and Indian backgrounds, we just visited Azriel Azriel, a Mumbay Jew, who exhibits pictures of his own holy man "Shai Baba" as well as a massive collection of porcelain dolls.

On the drive up from Yeroham we stop in Dimona to visit the community of "Bney Yisrael", African Americans from Chicago who formed their own religion and settled in this God forsaken desert town for reasons of faith. they walk around their makeshift village wearing colorful outfits. People are being suspicious of us until it turns out we got a permit from the heads of the community to photograph, whereupon the kids Begin performing somersaults.

The drive up to Jerusalem goes through the West Bank, we see glorious mountain wastelands, sprawling and impoverished Palestinian communities, intimidating watchtowers of grey concrete overlooking the villages, violent concrete walls and affluent settlements with red tiled roofs. I failed to bring my ID along, so I shrink a little every time we pass a checkpoint. After shrinking again and again I begin developing a really healthy appetite for

Dinner

- but there's a concert of works by Mahler and Brahms to attend, so I don't get any dinner, running instead through the stone streets with a Belgian waffle from Babette's, and later having a bottle of similarly Belgian Beer with Adam and Gilli Stern in a square near city hall. The music was moving, Alon and Adam are both top notch travel companions and Gilli Stern is the Abu Hassan hummous of my old friends. Was this a satisfying day? It certainly filled me up.

2 comments:

Miriam (Mimi) Asnes said...

Hey, I am glad you finally got to hang out with Gilli; I bet it was special...

Yuval said...

It certainly was. I've actually seen him several times since he returned from Canada (I can't really say he's altogether here yet, some homecomings take time). To start with, I bumped into him on accident in Tel-Aviv's Mike's Place, where he was bartending on the 4th of July. Later we sneaked at night into Jerusalem's ramparats promenade. He's a good partner for adventure.

For this last meeting he brought a letter I wrote him fifteen years ago and a packet of "Jolly Ranchers" - candy that has sentimental value for us since our Washington days. I don't know whether you've seen that side of him, or whether you've seen it well enough, but he's actually a sentimental guy. I like seeing how that side of him developed over the years, since in high school he was Mr. sharp humour and cynisism.