Out of Africa- Ethiopian Delights

Out of Africa is a movie I vividly recall from the days I used to frequent Cinemas, these days I’d prefer to see exotic places for myself.

Ethiopia, Sth Africa,Kenya, Zebras, Elephants or Lions all fascinate me. Like South America ,Africa is a continent I dream to travel in and meanwhile I’m being introduced to the different foods they serve.  I arrived in Israel together with Operation Moses without a connection to a community organisation yet knew family members would welcome me to the country. The essence of adjusting to a new country is enriched if you have a family or community support and all the more a necessity to endure the hardships of living in Israel.

Special Events in July

Ethiopians from Modiin

I’ve always been interested in Ethiopia, wether it be from living in Australia meeting an Ethiopian from Gondar whom had befriended a close friend whilst they studied at University together or meeting Ethiopians in a nightclub in Amsterdam. Arriving in Israel at the same time as the migrants from Russia and Ethiopia I was informed they were given preference as I had arrived from Australia I didn’t require any aid.

Well that left me alone looking for direction, stumbling around having climbed Ben Nevis, seen the Everest and the Pyramids.Travelling by train I also enjoyed the Valley of the Queens and Kings straight out of the Agatha Kristie Movie Death on the Nile… The Ethiopian Jews whom settled in Israel walked the deserts through Sudan and lost many friends whom couldn’t make it to Gondar or Addis Ababa  to save their heritage or return to their homeland after years in exile.

Their restaurants thrive and their culture can be seen in the businesses they set up or in the centres that they live in.  It was a surprise for me to discover my favourite Cafe in Tel Aviv recently thanks to a Shabbat Dinner I attended by chance.

I attended an evening dedicated to Ethiopian Jews in my home town and learnt that we have almost 30 Ethiopian families in Modiin and a total of 2% of the population of Israel are Ethiopian Jews.

Being introduced to their breads  and snacks of roasted wheat and their baby humous which were roasted in spices and observing  a traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony where the youngest person of the family honours the eldest members serving them coffee welcoming guests to their home .

Walking the streets of Jerusalem often I pass an Ethiopian restaurant in the Centre of the City but seeing as I don’t eat meat I’ve never eaten there. Still the Ethiopians staple bread is the Ingera much like the Yeminite Lachuch a large pita that one wrips up as you devour dips and fill your senses with the smell of cooked legumes or spinach or potato side dishes.  In fact eating at Tanat reminded me of my days in India and the Cafe I frequent in Machane Yehuda to reminisce of travels to Agra and Varanasi.  So now I’ve met Itzik a cool dude with a passion to keep his heritage alive in Israel I’ve become his number one fan.

Itzik of Tanat Vegan Restaurant

Ingera at Tanat

His Cafe is in the heart of South Tel Aviv near Allenby Street or the Bus Station area, passing the illegal Erithrean makeshift restaurants one reaches Zchelnov Street and Tanat. Itzik surprised me as not only was he fluent in Hebrew but he conversed freely in English with Tourists walking by and the locals that pass by enroute to work or off to the local nightclub.  The warmth he showed me was just what I needed on a late Friday afternoon before Shabbat came in and the recommendation by a bunch of guys I met over a Shabbat dinner to try out this Vegan Cafe in Tel Aviv proved worthy.  Actually I really wanted a fresh Juice but was content with the cold water he served me to quence my thirst as I had all but spent my last pennies on a fun day walking Shenkin Street seeing the local Art work by innovative Israelis in all the colours of the rainbow whom market their wares to the public.

Still the Ingera with a dahl like lentil dish and potato/carrot dish filled my stomach just like Popeye as I devoured spinach and every last mouthfull ready to drive home to welcome Shabbat and be greeted by my young son.

Traditional pottery and cooking courses are offered in the Community Center of Ramla for tourists to learn about Ethiopian culture during a visit to Israel.

Ethiopian Cafe
Itzik of Tanat Vegan Restaurant
Rehov Zchelnov 27, Tel Aviv
Telephone: 077-4813513

Yemenite Restaurant  –  Lachuch on Fridays
Marvad Haksamim
Moshava HaGermanit, Jerusalem

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Traditional Shabbat Gazpacho

What a week its been for spontaneous travel experiences for me.. Having my days filled by my twin daughters its time for some ME time.  Friday night  I find myself alone again for dinner.

The previous day on a great site I’ve discovered for mostly younger travellers there is a Shabbat dinner just over half an hour away.  Great offer, and all I have to do is drive! No washing dishes just bring a drink!

Thinking I might be rejected cause they’ll look at my profile and see Im a mother of young children what do I have to lose, they are at their grandparents and its my night off for a Traditional Shabbat Meal with complete strangers.  Maximum – No Good? I hop in my car and return home instead of being miserable that my family isn’t with me. The best part is I don’t have to cook and come back rejuvenated.

So spontanety is my favourite word lately giving myself some unexpected experiences meeting people from around the world without paying for an air ticket and enjoying it too.

It took me a while;         What sort of a Street is Macdonall in Ramat Gan?              Discovering the residences of The Philippino Ambassador and an empty lot with overgrown plants and a block of units hidden away opposite a petrol station.   Finally I approach the home thinking I must be at the wrong place almost ready to turn away dissapointed at having received such a nice reply and some guy telling me I’m most welcome just walk down the street past the vacant lot and I take one last peek and decided to knock on the door.

Many years ago I lived in Ramat Gan and know the area quite well but had never been here. Greeting me to one of the best Traditional Meals for Shabbat a bunch of 8 Israeli guys ( 5 are flatmates) and 2 other females a Columbian and Russian gal and a couple very much together. A nicely laid out white table cloth with cutlery and dishes all ready for us to dine.  I get introduced to Morry, Adam,  Uri ,Nataliya ,Danielle ,Gadi and the others and chat with them about their travels in Africa eating Gali something I’m yet to try. Hearing stories of St Petersburg and Nataliyas new life in New Jersey, opposite we see an attic like bed above a very high large book shelf covered with some great Religious books and an enormous picture of 7 people in fancy dress from a Purim Party they held.  I’m flabbergasted this is the life I should have led, years ago I was also 27 and ready to party had just met my partner and my life changed course..

After the Kiddush and the blessing for washing our hands we enjoyed the 2 Traditional Sweet Hallahs , just like in my home with the blokes serving the meal.        We start off with a couple of jokes about the burnt fish, ( which wasn’t so burnt), and after enjoying a great Gazpacho with a dash of Tabasco, on come the Noodles, the Eggplant and Tahina dish, The sliced baked potatoes, and stuffed Capsicums/Red Peppers for those of you whom like them.  Thinking the company couldn’t get any better and the food was finished they announce a serve of Sharons Sorbet and Chubby Hubby Ice Cream from Ben and Jerrys.  They take off the dishes and bring on a juicy red Watermelon with some Salty Bulgariaa n Cheese Cubes which I dig into with a toothpick to finish off with an Israeli style treat.

The Couple leave and I’m getting tired with a drive home but the guys and 2 other ladies are still in the mood to party so I stay a little longer and just before I get too exhausted from talking about Tattoos and Bat Yam a seaside town in Israel I’m asked if I can offer Gadi a lift to Tel Aviv. I say my farewells hoping I’ll see this bunch of Israelis again some time.

Gadi tells me he is off to the US in a few weeks and I tell him a bit more about me and my Australian past and how I really enjoyed myself. Gadi assured me I’ll be welcome anytime whenever they next have a Shabbat meal and want to meet people just to bring my smile and not worry about my age difference.

Of Course I’m happy thinking it won’t happen too soon again and I head home to my children happy and rejuvenated for another weekend.

Suddenly on Monday I see a post for guests to join in a Sailing event in Herzilya after 6pm until after 9pm checking the post I see the couple are from my home town Modiin and are 10 yrs older than myself looking for a crew to sail the Meditteranean. The logistics are difficult but hey I pick up my young son from kindergarten take him home and get the older children to babysit for just over an hour until their father comes from work to take over.  Its surreal, maybe one can go back in time. Living in Sydney my late father co owned a yacht with a mate, and I used to sail into Sydney Harbour past the Sydney Opera House and Fort Denison frequently from  Rose Bay Wharf ,but Modiin has no Sea and the Meditteranean isn’t the Pacific.

But hey If I’m dreaming I don’t want to stop. I get to Herzilya only to discover I forgot my wallet and driving Licence at home hoping I don’t get caught by the police I decide to risk it. Luckily my daughter assures me shes put it in my bag for when I return so I know I’ll be right.  Meeting the couple at the Yacht Club reminded me of the best in Sydney and if I didn’t see signs in Hebrew I’d be sure I’m not in Israel.  I meet another Israeli, David, Kaya and Fredricka from Florence and a German guy called Alex whom proved very nice.  Well we sailed off into the Sunset looking onto the Israeli coastline pulling ropes and trying my hand at steering must admit Im a bit rusty…

Enjoying the two hour sail after a cup of tea we return relaxed and happy and I return home to await my next adventure and enjoy the company of friendly Israelis and tourists enjoying the lifestyle I used to live.

My Famous Gazpacho Recipe….