Monday, April 25, 2011


Passover was very laid back this year. I didn't have many people at the seder and no Catholic priests like I had last year.  Hubby actually graced us with his presence this year unlike the year before!   It took only one glass of wine for me to feel the effects and I began laughing hysterically at everything anyone said.
Wednesday, I took my grandson to the circus and thought that he enjoyed the gymboree trampolines, slides and ball pool better than the acrobats at the Medrano circus - the first politically correct  circus I had ever been at - not a single animal performed.  Just a bunch of heavily made up short Spanish acrobats.  Even my grandson was disappointed at not seeing any elephants.  But I spoiled him with expensive treats and chocolate milk and a toy gun that shoots out bubbles throughout the day.  What are grannies for after all?

I had invited a mixed married couple - she was Jewish, her husband an Arab Muslim - for dinner Friday night.  They were friends of one of my daughters.  But they never showed up.  Yesterday, during the final dinner of Passover, one of my other daughters said she knows why they didn't come.  Because the daughter who is friends with them was afraid they wouldn't like my food. 

My kids gasped at the thought.

"But you make great food"

You see,  the daughter who first invited them is absolutely embarrased by my European ashkenazi food like gefilta fish, which I only make during major holidays.  But I caught her eating quite a few of the sweet fish and I threatened to photograph her eating it and putting the photos on Facebook.  She was terrified at the thought.  Her reputation would be ruined. Kaput.

"They eat Moroccan food and they were afraid there wouldn't be any of that.  Not all of them are open to eating different foods."

"But mom makes regular food."

I glared at the one who said that.  Regular food?  Not on your life.  I comb through the internet and make rice flavored with saffron (not a favorite with the kids) and  an assortment of sweet and spicy dishes.  I made matza balls from scratch tonight from sweet potatoes.  How dare she say "regular"!

The main dish was about to be served.  A roast with dried apricots, red wine and yams, which everyone loved and  a cauliflower leek kugel.  I passed around the kugel and no one touched it. 

I get it.  I need to give it a more middle eastern identity. Something they would not be ashamed of eating.

"How about trying the cauliflower leek PASHTIDA (a Sephardic quiche)?" I asked.  The forks went flying into the dish until it was completely gone.

pre passover

My third daughter finally came home from the States on the Thursday before Passover.  She had been selling these hologram wrist bands, made in China, for $30 apiece in the malls in Long Island and people were buying them like mad.  Although the energy thing did work when she tried it on me.  I couldn't figure it out. 

That weekend I went with my grump husband to the Ein Gedi youth hostel for a weekend with my spiritual community  - Nava Tehilla.  It was wonderful being with spiritually like-minded people, praying with them, learning with them and eating all together.  I was on a rare spiritual high.  But unfortunately reality hit me before I knew it on the drive back home.  A phone call from my son was enough to ruin it all.

"Could you order two pizzas because I'm STARVING and I could eat a whole one."

"I'm sorry but I can only order one.  Why can't you share with your two sisters?" 

"Okay so I'll pay for one and you'll pay for the other" 

Fair enough.  I did leave them for the weekend with a house full of food but there's never enough pizza around. 

I come home and there is my son sitting at the table guarding his pizza pie with his two arms over the box like a homeless savage.  My daughters are complaining.

"He won't even give us a piece."

"Didn't you order one for yourselves?"

Yes, and it's on its way but he's now pissed that I'm paying for theirs and not for his and he demands 20 shekels.  I don't give it to him and he is now taking out all the stuff we store in his room and putting it out in the hallway.  He says for just 20 shekels he'll put it all back, but we are spiritually strong from the weekend.  We can withstand crap from our kids like this.   I don't give him the 20 shekels and we take our files and store it in our storage room downstairs. 

And I wondered whether King David, who hid out in Ein Gedi too a few thousand years ago, also reminisced about being out in the beautiful desert when things got rough back home.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

old friends

I've been going out lately to local events with women at least a decade older than me.  I always take pride in the fact that I can hang out with people from anywhere in their mid-twenties to senior citizens.  My thoughts are that if we're interested in the same cultural things (eating in fine restaurants counts as cultural to me), then we can enjoy each other's company.

I thought I'd have a fun time with a woman who travels with me on the bus to Jerusalem most mornings to the Jerusalem Old City Tastes Festival.  We decided that since she is kosher, we'll go to the Jewish quarter to eat, but at least go to see any entertainment in the Christian, Moslem and Armenian quarters.  The local rabbis had been furious about this event because non-kosher restaurants were featured  but I was thrilled because we were putting all the residents of the Old City on equal footing - no sector will be left out.  We first went to the Christian quarter and saw that it was unlit, with a juggler wearing a baker's hat and a few darbouka drummers.  That's it?  Other people wandered around also disappointed that there was no festive atmosphere and we saw only three people sitting outside at the local restaurants.  It could be the cool weather that kept people away, but it could also be that because of rabbinical pressure, the municipality toned down the entertainment in the quarters which didn't feature kosher food.  We walked to the Moslem quarter, passing my favorite bakery Jaffar, which was closing for the evening, and a few restaurants which had the festival's sign out in front (stating clearly that this was not a kosher establishment), but there was no sign of a festival anywhere (although I did read that outside the Damascus gate there was some entertainment).  We walked to the Jewish quarter and by that time my friend's foot began to hurt.  We slowed down. We finally got to the Jewish quarter passing by homes which belonged to Arabs who were watching the scene.  I stopped in front of one man standing outside his home, which I mistook for a mini-mosque because of the photo outside his home adorned by multi-colored paint.  "No, this is a home. We painted it like this because of the Haj (pilgrimage to Mecca)".  "You went to the Haj?" I asked.  He nodded.  "Mabruk!!!" He was happy that I knew what the Haj was.  I mentioned to my friend what a missed opportunity the old city of Jerusalem was for intercultural friendships. Everyone keeps to their own neighborhoods.  We ordered some food from the stands, watched Japanese tourists dancing to a Moroccan band dressed in caftans, and by that time, my friend could hardly walk any longer.  We managed to get a taxi at a reasonable price to drive us home.  A bus wouldn't do.

The next event I went to with a friend - also around 10 years or so older than me - was the Arabesque belly dance performance at the Jerusalem theater.  She is always reliable so when the time came for us to meet and she wasn't there I worried.  I called her and figured she's on her way and doesn't want to speak on the cellphone while she's driving.  A half an hour later, the place was filling up and still no sign of her.  I saved her a seat and by the time the performance began, people who were standing on the side took over her seat telling me they'll get up when she comes.  She never came. I ended up with another older friend whom I recognized from the time when I used to go Israeli dancing and she pulled me up to belly dance with her on the side.  I moved my hips and arms, trying to emulate the dancers in their beautiful outfits.

The next morning my friend called to apologize.  She went to take a nap an hour before and ended up sleeping for four hours instead of one.

One has to be patient with senior citizen friends.  They may get everything at half price but they suffer more from pains and tend to oversleep.  I figured I may need to lower the age of my friends for the next time I go out.

But that night I couldn't sleep because of severe shoulder pain.  I tell my friend who called that I'm on my way to the doctor because of this pain.  She understands, of course, and invites me to see a movie with her as compensation for the missed evening.

"Sure" I said. "providing I feel better by Friday..."  -which it hadn't.  I'm wondering whether my older friends wouldn't be better off going out with some younger people themselves.  And perhaps I should be getting stuff at half-price too, since I am suffering like any other senior citizen with their aches and pains....