One of my favorite things about morning errands in Tel Aviv is what one sees along the way. With my music* and my camera** I walk around town and I observe, think, compare and analyze. I often look in contrasts. Antwerp vs Tel Aviv. Europe vs the Middle East. But, what is the Middle East and what defines it? I could write a full post about Israel’s geography: which continent are we? Asia. Then why do we participate in the Eurovision? Oh here I’m deviating from my subject, let’s just call it Mediterranean for now and let’s go back to comparing the two cities I know best.
Israel has always been technologically advanced – they had cellphones here before we even knew about them, remember those dinosaurs – and was already a free-WiFi-friendly place. The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality Finance Committee has recently approved a 1,5 million $ budget for a city WiFi Network that will be spread in parks, city shores, main streets and commercial centers (on top of cafes, restaurants and bars and my favorite: the airport).
Another great thing is the 75% discount the city’s residents get on various well-located parking lots. The city also makes sure to keep the city green and often involves citizens in their opinion about the design for certain parks, sidewalks and fountains. And how about getting around town in the monit Sherut? And all those 24/7 restaurants, going from breakfast at Benedict till burgers at Moses at any given time of the day. And the delicious cappuccino (hafuch). And if you like dogs, it’s a dog friendly city too. Between gay beach and the orthodox beach there is a dog beach. Also, besides having the ugly usual graffiti, there are some incredibly talented anonymous artists doing street art.
So let’s teach and learn from each other. Tel Aviv should urgently start separating trash, fining honking vehicles, french shower the smelly street cats, improve the supermarkets, get decent bike lanes and what not. Bekitsur, (in short) best of both worlds (and one of Robert Palmer’s best songs)
*currently listening to an Israeli band called theAngelcy – remember their name, it will live forever **yes I have just replaced my broken iPod touch with a Canon EOS M, Generation M(arilyn). Yes it was named after me. Aren’t you wondering how I took this picture then ->
Let’s start this post with a little note to my fellow Belgians or should I say Europeans. I wouldn’t be discussing the recent tensions in the Middle East as this is certainly not a political blog. But as apparently everyone seems to own the conflict, I guess I do have a say. Maybe the media are the first to blame as they should stand for “impartial” and “objective” reporting? At university they taught us the media is the watchdog of democracy. Not what I see when I watch Belgian news about Israel. And as for the people’s opinion: maybe I wouldn’t know better either if I’d just watch your news and read your newspapers. But at least I won’t feel I have the right to preach, convince nor judge. I live in Tel Aviv since six years and I still feel I have no right to judge. Because I do not know war. I did not grow up with terror. I did not go to the army. So why do Europeans feel they have the right to? Most of them have probably never even been in Israel. Yes I’m bothered with that hypocritical solidarity. That being said; my blog is about my life, my life in Tel Aviv, both as a stranger and an insider. And I decide to focus on the bright side of it, the creative, the stimulating, the talent; what makes us wake up in the morning and smile. And I can tell you this: Tel Aviv is alive and kickin’. Towers still grow like mushrooms, people going to the beach, party in clubs, eat and drink 24/7, real estate is still unaffordable, there is still no parking and too much traffic, three new boutique hotels just opened around my corner, and the sun still shines…
All photos by me & my broken Ipod touch – maybe soon I’ll get a real camera…
Life is good @ Delicatessen: my Filofax, the blackberry, some sun, a knitting project and a “hafuch” or two or three Old versus New on Mazeh Street
Old versus New on Mazeh street
New boutique hotel Alma
Yarn Bombing on Nahlat Binyamin Street
TLV view from Jaffa
Electric art on Pines Street, Neve Tzedek
Sunset at Fortuna Del Mar @ Tel Aviv Marina
Sunset at Topsea Beach
Super Jew is Coming soon – Drawing by Julien Roux
To celebrate Marilyn’s visit to her hometown Antwerp, we decided to make a Middle-Eastern dinner for our friends and family.
An ideal dip for pita bread: a big plate of Hummus and green Tehina, hard boiled eggs, grilled pine nuts with some cumin and sweet paprika powder. Hummus is a food dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas. Tehina is a paste made from ground, hulled sesame seeds.
This is the home made “Shakshuka” and probably Israel’s most famous dish after Falafel and Hummus. Shakshuka is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Sometimes with garlic. You can spice it up with some chili peppers. Most Israelis eat it for breakfast with a salad. Contemporary Israeli restaurants play with it and often offer a Green Shakshuka (with spinach, chard, aubergines and feta cheese). This dish knows many stories, recipes and myths. I like this description and recipe by “the Shiksa in the Kitchen” website if you want to try it at home.
I realize that even when describing food it’s hard to avoid politics: this is a chopped “Arab Salad”. The basic recipe includes tomato, cucumber and onion. Often mixed with parsley and combined with the juice of freshly squeezed lemon and olive oil, unlike many Western salads, Arabic salad contains no lettuce. In summer we add fresh mint leaves.
Another important spice in Mediterranean cuisine is called Za’atar. It’s a mixture of sumac, sesame seed and herbs.
And of course: Falafel. Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. Falafel is usually served in a pita, topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tehina-based sauces. You can make them yourself or buy them at your local supermarket
בתאבון – Beteavon – Bon appétit – Smakelijk