Showing posts with label Jerusalem. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jerusalem. Show all posts

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Plenty of Veggies

Just in time for Great Lent, a lovely cookbook: "Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi."
Recipes are very simple: eggplant with pomegranate, za'atar and buttermilk sauce (pictured); beet, orange and olive salad; caramelized fennel with goat cheese; quinoa salad with dried Persian lime ....
Chef Yotam Ottolenghi also wrote a Jerusalem cookbook.
Separately, a new take on grilled cheese, Sfakianopita, a Greek flat bread, which seems to be a version of the famed plakotiganites yiayia prepared but no one can duplicate. The recipe was featured on an episode of the Cooking Odyssey on PBS, which maintains a fabulous list of Greek recipes

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Combating Fear

Last week when I was wandering alone on the dark, stone lanes of Old Jerusalem, or in a conservative Istanbul neighborhood, I didn't feel courageous. But several people very close to me have admired my courage for going to both places. I wasn't courageous, or foolish. Journalists in Gaza, Israeli soldiers in Gaza, those who choose to live in Gaza -- that's courage. It's just that we are so isolated in America, it's easy to get sucked into the never-ending headlines without juxtaposing them with the everyday reality beyond Gaza's rockets. Consider these headlines from recent days: From Turkey, "More Arrested in alleged plot by Turkish ultranationalists to bring down the Islamic-rooted government." (Wall Street Journal) Turkish fighter jets danced over Greek territory. As for Israel: Gaza rockets have gotten within 20 miles of Tel Aviv, warning sirens went off in Jerusalem Wednesday (erroneously, says the Jerusalem Post) and the Palestinian death toll is approaching 1,000. But even in a "dangerous" place, and I wouldn't call Istanbul or even Jerusalem that, everyday life goes on. I definitely was scared when I arrived in Jerusalem because there were things on fire in the street. But at the wedding in Tel Aviv, there wasn't any security. Four of us got lost and entered the celebration through the kitchen without question. The bottom line is we can't live in constant fear of isolated terrorism, even if, today, Osama Bin Laden is urging a holy war over Gaza. I'm glad I am home. Then again, the New York Times suggests moving to Istanbul: look what $800,000 buys!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sepulchre Candles

Here are the candles I lit for everyone at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Some people light bundles of 33 tiny candles, representing the years Christ spent on earth. They light them with an eternal flame outside the tomb, and then snuff them in a cone-like structure so they can take the blessing home. I think it's a bit superstitious. But there's an economic angle, naturally: vendors outside the Sepulchre's gated walls sell boxloads of the candle bundles. The Armenians' have a reception area with heavy wooden doors right near the tomb and they sell candle bundles too. I saw Russian women in babushkas producing crisp $100 bills from their little coin purses to buy candles and a souvenir. The net result is a very sooty sepulchre and smoke conditions for the monastics on duty. The cash collected clearly doesn't go to an air filtration system.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Don’t Fear the Reaper


OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM, Israel - In the dark of a cold January night in Jerusalem’s Old City, I found myself at the tomb of Christ, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre tonight. I walked there completely alone on desolate cobblestone paths. I found it by accident, walked in after a small negotiation partly in Greek, and there were no lines, competing guards or services. It was a coup, a miracle – I started to cry – truly the experience was “awesome.” There are dangling, sterling lamps overhead – scores of them – and at the small marble tomb, I was able to briefly kneel totally alone and pray. In quiet. Can you imagine? This never, ever happens for Christian pilgrims. But because of the tense security situation today, the first Friday of prayer for Muslims since the Israeli bombings of Gaza began, Jerusalem’s Old City was in lockdown. Right as I walked out, an Italian tour of 50 was trying to get into the Sepulchre church.
That was the exception to a city otherwise still and divided between Arab and Jew moreso than usual, by all counts. I didn’t see many Christians at all. At dusk, I walked from the Mount of Olives, through the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus spent his last hours with his disciples and made my way through the imposing stone Lion’s Gate into the Arab Quarter. The area was desolate and the first thing I saw in Jerusalem. I couldn’t help but realize that I was privileged to be there: how many of my Jewish friends wouldn’t or couldn’t do that walk, alone at night – especially on a tense day like today? And how many women just plain wouldn’t take that walk? Only a few young men walking with commitment to their destination were around me. The polished cobblestone streets were mostly empty, the tourist souks and shops mostly closed, the food stands – and I am only imagining this because of what I didn’t see. I was headed for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the gate road turned into Via Dolorosa, but I took a left somehow and ended up at the security checkpoint for the Western Wall as swarms of Hasidim in massive hats whooshed by. By essentially coming in the back door to it, I avoided the Dung Gate lines that were about really, really dense. There were young Israeli soldiers everywhere, boys and girls, with rifles casually slung on their shoulders, over their baggy coats and cargo pants. No men under the age of 50 were allowed to enter the old city today – especially to the mosque at prayer time – but there were busloads of Birthright Israel kids at the Wall. And groups of Orthodox and Hasidic men, on their side, were dancing and singing and jumping at the wall. When I left, walking backwards from the Wall in respect, I stopped into the first café I could, and they had those mahmool date cookies I love. After I asked for directions to the Holy Sepulchre, the cashier seemed relieved to have me as a customer in his empty shop and gave me the cookie as a gift. Imagine that thousands of people pass his café-restaurant, just beyond the plaza where people worship at the wall, and his shop was empty today. Arab vs. Jew. I bought packaged hummus, toursi and pita with zatar at a grocery, and took a cab to the hotel from the Damascus Gate where about a dozen Israeli army guards lingered, eating mandarin oranges.

Day of Rage


JERUSALEM, Israel - Arrived in Jerusalem today not knowing it is a "Day of Rage" for Muslims over the situation in Gaza. But making up for that is the dome outside my window: purportedly the spot where Christ ascended, though others claim it was in Bethany. Was still a little sleepy after Yoav and Dorit's wedding in Tel Aviv last night, so I didn't watch television this morning, and anyway wasn't particularly impressed with our hotel in Tel Aviv (no Internet access, kindof run down neighborhood, a mile from the sea.) Jerusalem's old city lanes, however, were beckoning, and a friend from business school was driving here -- it doesn't get easier than that! And as luck would have it, I was dropped off in front of the American Consulate, where I picked up the mandatory Arab driver (the first taxi to pass) who lives here in in East Jerusalem and knows the owners of the Mt. of Olives Hotel where I am staying. We know this place from the sisters at Holy Dormition Orthodox Monastery; I don't imagine all the Orthodox Christian pilgrims who come here would like to see what I did upon approach: three dumpsters in the road, smoking, and a cut dire in flames. We passed heavy security at old city entrances, and a helicopter and blimp were overhead -- all monitoring the afternoon Muslim prayers. Allah Akbar was shouted from the rooftops as I got into my room. But CNN reports indicate that not much happened in the Old City today -- some women singing allegiance to a Gaza leader, and some young guys throwing stones at the gate to the main mosque. My b-school friends suggested meeting at the Wailing Wall since it's officially the Jewish sabbath now (4:13 p.m. today). But I think I'll avoid those crowds and see it later. Not quite the same kind of stress as a Friday print Barron's deadline!