Thursday, July 2, 2009

Zimmerman's Holy Land Experience

What an adventure to eat in the Holy Land! We were privileged to have buffets for breakfast and dinner each day, so we could try a variety of food that we probably would not have ordered from a menu. We usually had lunch in the midst of a travel day, so were able to partake of local food.

Have you had olives for breakfast? There were usually several varieties on our buffets, always with the pit intact, as well as tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, cheeses and large bowls of fresh yogurt. Without labels it was hard to distinguish the plums (which we liked) from the small pickled eggplants (not such a popular choice for breakfast). The scrambled eggs were always a safe bet, as well as the different types of bread for toasting. I loved the cocoa spread (similar to Nutella). The cheese and buns made a good sandwich to take along, in case hunger arrived before lunch.

Our dinner buffets usually featured beef and chicken, as well as an assortment of vegetables and salads. Rice often appeared, potatoes less frequently. One of the chopped salads was especially good so I asked the waiter what it was called. He went to get someone who spoke English, who returned to tell me the name of the salad, "Vegetable Salad". Pita bread was a common item, along with hummus (made from chickpeas). The fruit platters were lavish, with a melon that tasted better than our cantaloupe, but was pure white. We also enjoyed the large fresh dates. A special dinner featured kabobs, individual gyros on a stick, and stuffed grape leaves.

One day our bus stopped in northern Israel, near the border of Lebanon and Syria, and we all jumped out for lunch. One of the options was a "sandwich" of Druze flatbread, grilled to order, with a spread of olive oil and goat cheese, and a sprinkle of zatar thyme. This was then folded (like a burrito) and eaten with a small bowl of marinated olives. We asked the name of it and were told some people call it a Lebanon sandwich. The other frequent lunch offering was the local treat, Falafel, which is a chickpea "meatball", in pita bread with vegetables and sauce.

Some things looked so familiar, like Coca-Cola (although the can was in Hebrew), and Icee drinks from the corner machine. Popsicles were a welcome treat, especially when we found they were apricot flavored! And so we ate our way through the Holy Land, savoring every bite.

Craig and Jane Zimmerman