Friday, July 20, 2018

When I Have a Cold

Since the humidity is high, we sleep with the A/C on all night. I felt my throat being cold and 2 days later, I woke up with a cactus in it. I barely finished the work day at the office with all the symptoms of a head cold: aching throat, ears, head and general weakness, and decided to listen to my body and stay home the next day to recuperate. Before going to bed, took two Acamol pills and shared the picture of the Acamol package with all my friends on Facebook, to let them know how miserable I feel.

After a mostly sleepless night, got up and got thinking. Since only my head is sick, I can do something useful with the rest of my body and not let this day be a complete waste. Decided to undertake a small project: cleaning our bedroom and on-suite bathroom. If you follow me on Facebook, you know my cleaning person went back to his country and we are now cleaning the house on our own, me being totally useless with such activities. I was lucky enough to have it done for me all my life and nobody ever taught me how to clean efficiently. I can do basic stuff, quite awkwardly though.

I remember my mom always complaining about me not helping around the house, but she didn't actually teach me, she expected me to take initiative and copy her, or maybe she tried teaching me and I wasn't interested, I really can't remember, it was very long ago. At least I'm a good cook, and even my mom said my cakes are tastier than hers. But that's because I use mixers, real ingredients and an electrical stove, none of which she ever had.

Cleaning is not one of my many talents, but how difficult can it be, right? Let's just say that a video shoot of me cleaning, would win the "clumsiest cleaner" comedy award. I started by taking out the vacuum cleaner and by the life of me, I couldn't piece it together, to use its attached tools. I was too embarrassed to admit I need to read the manual or watch a youtube video. Me? A manual? I just write them, who says I should also read them? Like in the old joke "why do cops always patrol in pairs? - because one of them can read and the other write" - I'm the one who writes.

I managed to connect the pieces in contrast to their idiot-proof design, I forgot to select the cleaning mode with the knob (I applied my "logic", without reading the small print next to the icons), but figured out (after a while!) where the on-off button was (it's foot operated!). I wondered at the many types of cleaning products we own, some with heavy, unpleasant smells. The glass shower refused to become  transparent even after many attempts, so I just gave up on that one, but the rest I was pretty happy with. With the utensils already out, I also cleaned the other toilet, vacuumed the big rug in the living room and mopped around.

By the time I finished and put everything back in place with a throbbing head, I concluded that in contrast with how effortless it looks in TV ads, cleaning is mostly an unpleasant, tiresome task and I need more practice to work out an efficient methodology. In our next episode: figuring out how to empty the vac's dust bin. Oh, and since you asked, yes, I have a robot, but it's useless for anything that is not a large area of floor or carpet.

Back to the kitchen.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Boycotts

Following the recent Barkan Winery Kosher certificate affair, some of my friends proposed to boycott the Badatz or the winery.

When individuals or organizations abroad boycott Israel, we are all up in arms, as we should be, trying to explain the underlying injustice, stupidity and antisemitism. So let me remind those quick to boycott friends the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated.

Also, when you boycott someone, there are always innocent "bystanders" who get hurt. If you boycott a manufacturer (by refraining to buy their produce) because of business practices that are against your principles, to teach them a lesson and show that you stand up for your values, the manufacturer will eventually go bankrupt and a lot of good people will join the ranks of the unemployed. Demanding the CEO to resign is IMHO a much better move as it will only punish the policy maker, not the hard working, decent people. "Business is business" is unacceptable, so do your business (pun intended) elsewhere, Mr. CEO.

When boycotting the Badatz (by not buying produce with their kosher certificate), a lot of manufacturers may get hurt. I understand the intention to make businesses refrain from applying for this certificate as it would hurt their business (Badatz consumers are only a small group of Israeli society). If no such certificate will exist, the ultra-orthodox will either find a way to eat food with regular certificates or manufacture their own food (not such a bad idea, as it would make them contribute to the Israeli economy). However, this can be a very long process. Until then, manufacturers will lose business, lay off people and we are back to the previous scenario, but on a larger scale.

The regular milk carton we bought today in the supermarket has no less than 4 certificates. And who do you think pays all these kashrut supervisors? The consumer. And in my case, the consumer doesn't need even one, but is willing to pay for one only as a tax for living in a Jewish country.
Boycotts are like war and hatred, they have a beginning, but often no end. You can reach a stage of everybody boycotting everybody else for one reason or another until standstill. Society will look like a busy Tel Aviv junction 2 minutes after the traffic light goes off.

Let's drink some wine to fighting for our universal values in the parliament, the courts, the streets, but not in the supermarkets. And if I may chose the wine, I'd go for Golan's 2T - my new favorite. Cheers!


Friday, April 6, 2018

Food Microstories

Last week, Tom came to my office and we lunched at a Japanese restaurant. During my childhood, I had no idea what Japanese food is, or any other food that was not cooked at home. I don't remember ever going to a restaurant with my parents. Different times, different place.


We used salt, pepper and paprika as condiments. Sometimes bay leaves. I remotely heard about allspice and ginger. In Israel, a culinary heaven with so many different cuisines and endless fusion possibilities, I have and use a few dozen spices, sauces and herbs. The weirdest is Moroccan pickled lemons. At first I didn't understand the concept. Pickling is actually souring, but why sour something that is already sour? I learned that this flavorful mixture is the key ingredient in many excellent dishes.


I love to experiment in the kitchen and try out new foods, even when having guests for meals. In fact, I cook new dishes every single week. I plan the menu by reading my favorite food blogs and deciding on dishes that fit well together. Then I send the shopping list with ingredients to hubby. Friday morning, 3 boxes with groceries greet me in the kitchen. We have breakfast, and let the magic (actually hard work) begin. The variety is great, but I end up with leftovers of exotic ingredients that have a minimal chance to be used before their expiration date.


I hate wasting food. In restaurants, you pay for the waste (and even then I hate it), but in home cooking, every edible leftover is used. All the famous chefs preach using those flavor-packed juices at the bottom of a pot. They are great for making couscous or rice, for example. I am always sorry to throw out food left on plates. Many years ago, in a guesthouse, I took a serving of something that looked delicious, but it turned out to be something else and totally not tasty. I left it on the plate. The host told me off in front of all the other guests for my wasteful behavior. I felt like a reprimanded child.


One of the traditional Passover foods of my childhood was beetroot soup. Because of its color, I mistakenly took my first bowl of beetroot soup for cherry soup. It tasted awful. Did not touch beetroot soup for years, until it occurred to me that the reason for the bad experience was my expectation for something else. Once I understood that, I started enjoying beetroot soup.


Expectation for taste or texture can also come from a dish's name. People with dietary restrictions or culinary preferences sometimes replace unhealthy ingredients with others, but keep calling the dish by the same name. The taste is usually disappointing. Why not call the dish by a different name or even better, why not create new dishes containing only healthy ingredients? Oh, did I mention I drink my coffee with almond "milk"? If "milk is a white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals", then what mammal produces soy milk or rice milk?

Unnatural food colors put me off. I would not eat blue food, for example. But oddly enough, I also dislike the idea of cute looking or too beautiful food. It's time consuming and wasteful, in short decadent.