yes indeed

oh, you have no idea.  really, you have no idea…i ate the most perfect pear the other day, really.  i have to say, for the most part, israeli produce is exceptional, far superior to that which i ate for the first 20 years of my american life, not to mention far less expensive, but there are few exceptions.  one of them is the tomato, a tear-jerking subject which i believe i touched on recently, and another is the pear.  the israeli pear market seems to be made up of 95%  a small green species sometimes slightly blushing with pink.  they are available year round, and they are usually bland and underwhelming, either hard and dry or mushy and mealy.  but a few days ago, my friend, i ate the pear that every wee pear dreams of being when it grows up: firm yet supple, sweet yet not sickeningly so, inconspicuously tangy yet ever-gentle, with honeyed juices trickling after each bite.  i ate a pear that was fortunate enough to reach its full potential, and i was fortunate enough to stuff that potential into my greatly appreciative mouth.

and then i started to think: if i would have eaten that specific pear, which i happened to snab at the moment of the peak of its ripeness, just a day earlier, or a day later, it would have been just another mundane fruit.  food in the idf is terrible, full of margarine and processed meats and msg-laced chicken flavored soup powder added to everything except dessert, if there ever is dessert, but at least we usually have access to fresh produce,and for the last month i’ve been happily munching on about two pears a day.  i savored that one pear, considered it a find, a jewel, and myself lucky, but in reality, the occurrence was just a matter of statistics: if i ate 60 pears in a month, one is bound to be consumed at its peak.  i recall vaguely biting into a rotting pear, but the other 58, imperfect yet tolerable, some perhaps enjoyable, some perhaps slightly not enjoyable, were not repulsive or delicious enough to be remembered.  everything in life is so.  what is commonplace is usually forgotten.

that pear made my day, helping me get over the fact that…well, there is sad news…fig season is has come to an end.  my 8 hour hummer patrols are lacking something.  for the last couple of months, i’ve been on the hunt for one of my favorite edible things on the planet: fresh figs.  wildly growing in the golan heights, they are so plentiful in the area we secure that  i even gathered enough to somehow make fig jam on base.  it had a flavor closer to that of dried figs, unfortunately losing that special taste the fresh variety possesses, but it was a treat to have something sweet to spread on our bread for breakfast (although i had a hard time convincing my disgusted israeli friends as i ate it with cottage cheese that, yes, the combination of cheese and fruit *does* work, for hundreds of years it has, actually).  on my never ending search for new trees, i discovered a small one right next to an old syrian “officers pool” which is a phenomenon in the north, a sort of small man-made pool tapping into a natural water source, surrounded by trees, often populated with visitors.  my expectations for this tree were high considering that it sat a few meters away from an abundant supply of water.  enthusiastically and almost greedily, i picked the fruit which felt in my hands, as i had hoped, large, plump, and juicy.  “this is it,” i thought, “these are the best ones i’ve found yet.”  almost jumping with excitement, i returned to the vehicle with a full bag, gave one to the commander and the driver, then placed one in my mouth, anticipating the fig of my dreams.  it was juicy, it was plump, and it was almost completely tasteless.  i suppose that because of the water source, these specimens appeared full and healthily large, yet in actuality were just diluted, bloated.  we found another fig tree on the side of the road, standing all by its lonesome in the middle of nowhere, speckled with miniature purple fruit.   here i found the real treasures: succulent and sweet, bursting with concentrated flavor so delectable that i almost had to convince myself that i was really allowed to eat such a thing.  i felt full of life, grateful for the everyday gifts of this world.

i thought of the parable of the trees, that which bears good fruit is a sign of goodness, as a bad tree cannot bear good fruit and vice versa – we can know people by the fruit that their lives bear.   but sometimes a person with that which appears to be good fruit, that which we would assume is supposed to be, given the indicators and the setting, is just deceivingly puffed up, lacking real substance.  and sometimes, the person who we would least expect,  by appearances and superficial impressions, surprises us and breaks down our judgmental mentality by shining through with true goodness.  one day, god willing, i will teach my children about people using these very trees, assuming that the golan will still be israeli territory, which i hope it will be as i would probably like to live there.  if everything goes as planned, which is rarely does, i’ll have two goats and we’ll eat little toasts with figs and goat cheese (which one can make using fig leaves instead of rennet) with some wild herbs, under the shade, by the officers pool.

in other news, my army experience is getting better and better, yet closer and closer to an end.  yesterday we camped out at an abandoned post and while, yes, we had to guard and such, most of my time was spent cooking (mushroom and basil creamy pasta in the evening and pancakes in the morning.  how does one manage to make food for 20 people using a little camping gas stove?  make it for 4 people, 5 times) and sitting by the fire in good company.  we sang songs, i told sexist jokes, and we dipped nectarines picked from the area and marshmallows in chocolate fondue (i’m not particularly fond of marshmallows, especially israeli ones, but i’d like to try to make my own and see how that turns out), then tossed potatoes into the crackling flames and ate them with dill and garlic “white cheese” (i’ve spoken about this israeli product before, like sour cream only thicker and not at all sour, americans would go crazy over it as it’s rich, creamy, and low fat, but somehow it just hasn’t made its way there).

really, it’s a shame that the area that i’m most talented in is not the area i’m most passionate in.  when people admire my (sparse, these days) artwork, i feel pleasant, nice, but when people admire my food, i am contented in every way, like my world has come together in perfect harmony.

oh, if i’m already ranting about fruit, another sad moment: mango season is also dwindling.  in honor of the mango, i am going to re-post from facebook my five reasons why i thank god mangoes exist:

1. its considered a “super fruit” cuz of all the good healthy stuff in it

2. its skin is 2-5 beautiful colors at one time…kelly green, cornflower yellow, bright red, firey orange, deep burgundy

3. mango salsa

4. mango lassi (way to go, india!  we love you!)

5.  licking the mango that’s all over my fingers afterwards

good one, god! thanks for the mango!

oh and yasmine (who u can find on the list of blog links to the right) thought the mango salmon ceviche that i made the other day also worthy of the list.   good golly this was a long post…i have to wake up in 5 hours so, have a good one, everybody 🙂

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2 Responses to “yes indeed”

  1. Yahnatan Lasko Says:

    Mango salmon ceviche…I gotta try this!

  2. Robin Says:

    i ate the most delicious fig dish of my life this weekend at a rosh hoshanah dinner. it was figs and carrots roasted together and tossed with a little butter and honey. divine, the highlight of my week.

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