Spring it is and the Sun is shining as Passover ends I recollect the events that led to me having a culinary experience with a new friend.
On the 4th day of Passover I’m contemplating how to make this Passover different from other Passovers and I discover someone seeking a host for 2 days. Feeling generous I decide to invite a Spanish guy over to spend Friday night dinner with my family. Although I had thought my first stranger on the list should be a young lady whom enjoys children, no one had answered the request and Manuel was embarking on his first trip to the holyland.
I had been out all day forgotten about the request and didn’t expect him to accept the offer even though I returned home unexpectedly late due to heavy traffic with children in tow. Suddenly before crawling into bed exhausted I check my emails and find the Spainard had arrived to Tel Aviv and wondered how to locate me.
By this time it was 9pm and I was exhausted and felt bad that I hadn’t let him down. This is the impression a first time traveller should get on arrival to Israel, ready to make amends I decided to quickly message him that the offer to come for Friday night dinner is still open and he can stay overnight to get back to me the following day.
Meanwhile we had plans to see the Bible Lands Museum and its wonderful exhibitions of Egyptian Mummies and Gold Coins and Jewellery that adorned Cleopatra….
After reminiscing of a time I spent in the Valley of the Queens & Kings(Egypt) and telling my children the story of me seeing Hyroglyphics and Mummies in the British Museum after riding Camels on a 3 dayJourney in the Eilat desert we returned home and discovered that Manuel wanted to meet a typical Israeli family. Being Passover I forgot to mention this Friday night meal would be different to all other Fridays as we eat Matzah instead of bread and keep Jewish traditions that maybe he is unaccustomed to. So happy that we were having a guest and spontaneously weary last minute I find myself driving the highway to Azrieli Tel Aviv to meet this stranger with my 2 yr old son in tow.
He was waiting as it took me a while to deep fry some of the food and my children were not in a hurry to help in the kitchen, we conversed on the way when I realised I hadn’t told him we eat only Vegetarian meals on Passover because I do the cooking. Unbeknown to me I was later to discover that it is a Spanish tradition on Fridays to eat Vegetarian fare every week. So I finally understood that the Sephardi tradition of such food on Friday nights has its roots back to the Spanish Inquisition wether the traditions date back 7 generations(as in my husbands family),or the Sephardim of today come from North Africa or Israel I have been keeping in step with ancient Spanish traditions.
Manuel was to discover with us the difficulties of being Jewish and shown traditions unfamilar to him. I didn’t make Matzah Brei (an Ashkenazi favourite) but instead put on Onion Soup with Kneidelach, Deep Fried Matzah Balls, a Cabbage and Corn Salad, Matzah Pizza, Leek Burgers, Beetroot and Prune Salad,Green beans with Tomato Sauce,and a delicious Matzah Chocolate Cake.
That was just part of our Friday night meal which he devoured happily even though it didn’t include my Passover Seder dishes.
After chatting about his many travels and experiences he has in the Spanish Navy we shared stories of his holidays visiting his parents in Canberra Australia and of my travels Down Under.
The following morning we ventured out early to show him the original ruins of ancient Modiin with my 2 year old son. Showing him the Hubeiza and the Mustard flowers that are used in traditional Druze/Arab cooking I was half tempted to pick enough to make a dish or two out of them. But after cooking all week with another 3 days of continuous labouring in the kitchen I decided to stick to my traditional Passover dishes.
So having eaten Deep fried Barbunia, My special Yemenite Haroset,Vegetable Soup with my home made Egg noodles, Cauliflower Tempura, Spinach and Cheese Bake and a Trifle that sent my children asking for more (probably cause it was laced with Rum), I’m definately in line for a good rest.
So Manuel discovered what a typical vegetarian Jewish family eat for Passover, missed the Dinosaur Park and went off with his newly bought suitcase from Modiins Azrieli Center as we bid him farewell and wished him happy travels throughout Israel before he returns to Cadiz and is off again to visit his parents whom are stationed in Australia.
My Paella Recipes and Passover Recipes will be posted on ozitwins4t.wordpress.com shortly.