Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Touring Tel Aviv

I woke up this morning and decided, you know what, I'm gonna Israel the heck out of this Israel today.

So yeah I just spent a significant amount of time reading about the mezuzah that was on the doorway of our hotel room. I guess there's a bit in Deuteronomy that says if you wanna be real cool you have to put the good word on your door. And so they have a guy write those verses onto a little paper, roll it up, then stick it inside of this little box and nail it to the door frame. The little W looking character on them is the Hebrew letter ש‎ (Shin) which stands for Shaddai, "Almighty" one of the biblical names of god. So now you know.

Tel Aviv was vibrant.

We took a food tour of the Carmel Market, the largest in Tel Aviv.

I spotted a yarmulke shop.

Our guide's name was Hefzibah. While she was teaching us how to pronounce it she said "to say it imagine a fly just went in your mouth." She said in Hebrew her name means "she's my delight". She is of Yemeni ethnicity. Our first stop was a juice shop.

There was a lot of "drink this juice to cure blah blah". Is there a juice to cure my violent eye rolling?

This cool guy was selling "real Yemen mallawah" which is apparently a flatbread that is traditional in Yemenite Jewish cuisine. The sign said that it was "baked in a special two sided pot from Grandma Lea's days." 

It had breakfast burrito vibes. There was a lot of egg going on in there.

This stand was memorable because it seemed to be decorated with cartoon faces of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. First time for everything.

This was a burika... seemed an awful lot like the last thing but in a flatter presentation.

Doctor's orders

We stopped at a hummus place. There was pita to mop it up but not nearly enough. I don't know if they were just being cheap or that's how the locals roll, but we were expected to just eat hummus with some toppings by itself with a spoon.

Our last stop was some dessert at Hamalabiya. They are known for malabi, a custardy rose-flavored dessert served with your choice of toppings, from sauces and nuts to cookie bits.

We also signed up for a graffitti tour with the same company, and it ended up being with our previous guide, Hefzi. Our tour group was made up from people from all over, some Americans were mixed in as well. At one point our guide made a reference to some rabbi, and was like "obviously everyone here knows Rabbi Blah Blah" and I was like "uhhh I know zero rabbis who the hell are you talking about". It may have been my imagination but I feel like she paused a beat before explaining... like a "I can't tell if you're kidding or what is your problem". At that moment I realized we were probably the only non-Jewish people on the tour.

This was my first graffiti tour and I liked it a lot. Graffiti is art that can be easy to ignore or not think about too much, and unlike art in a museum there isn't a nice little sign next to it explaining what I'm looking at or who the author is. So we talked a lot about the artists and what was going on in their lives and how that then produced the themes of their work.

I liked this dandy Zuckerberg a whole lot.

Any country with a McDonald's is a winner in my book.

We did a little window shopping at TLV Mall.

We had a fancy dinner booked that took us to a much more modern part of town. The skyscrapers all seemed to live in this neighborhood together.

Yaffo-Tel Aviv was fun. They had a cool style going on in there.

A taboon is a clay oven that has been used in the area since biblical times in the area, and I was highly motivated to order off the section of the menu where the food was cooked in a taboon. I assume that's that big white thing next to my big white head.

Whole sea bass, tomato butter sauce, green vegetables, garlic, sage and white wine

I find this mixture of Christmas and Hanukkah imagery here very interesting. My impression is that this is a no-no generally in the US, but Israel seems to have a more laissez faire approach.

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