Tag Archives: food

Things I Miss

26 Jan
Downtown Reno with Mt Rose in the background

Downtown Reno with Mt Rose in the background

After Monday morning’s German test, I have no classes until March 7th. I’ve decided to run away to visit friends in London, followed by a trip home. I just finished packing my suitcase full of stuff to take and leave at home, as well as stuff I know I will want while I’m home. I’m already worried about missing my friends here and about seeing everyone at home. I’m curious to see how the US looks and feels after nearly four months here. I’m curious to see how *I* feel.

As I packed and in anticipation of returning to a country where I can read and understand everything around me again – I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I miss from home.   Surprisingly, my list is fairly short. Given that my longest stretch here is yet to come – my list might look different by the time I reach September. Here is a list from the top of my head:

  1. Family and friends – can’t wait to hug and catch up with all of you IN PERSON!
  2. Food! Okay, so we knew there would be food stuffs on this list. Accept it and let me dream about all the food items I have been practically fantasizing about – PORK!, Mexican food, nachos (I know it’s technically Mexican but given the ones I really want are from Silver Peak – they count as their own category), pad thai from the Noodle Hut, biscuits and gravy, pumpkin pie, McDonald’s sausage biscuits, dry white wine (they LOVE sweet white wine here), the kale salad at Campo, Chinese food…I’m sure there is more that I’m forgetting. Friends – let me know if you’d like to join me for any of these food endeavors. And if you want to work out afterwards – my posterior will need it if I do indulge in all the above!
  3. My Jeep. Being able to hop in my car and not have to worry about navigating bus and train schedules.
  4. My ugly orange cat, Loki.
  5. My bed – but this one will have to wait since mine is in storage until I return in the fall. It will be so nice to sleep on a comfortable bed that’s bigger than twin sized!
  6. The mountains. Granted, I live on Mount Carmel but I miss seeing the mountains in every direction.
  7. More clothes! I’m looking forward to changing out some of my clothes. I’m bringing many of my cool weather clothes home and bringing back more summery stuff. Especially given I have a better idea of how blooming hot it’s going to get this summer.

I will try to write a blog post or two while I’m away from Haifa. In the meantime, thanks for following me through my first semester here. It feels like it went by so quickly. There is still so much I’ll looking forward to doing (Masada, Petra and more). A few friends and I are planning a road trip next semester too. Not to mention starting my thesis research and writing! Ekk! So lots of interesting (hopefully!) posts to come soon!

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13 Jan
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Breakfast at a favorite cafe in Jerusalem. Notice the salads!

Things I love about Israel:

  • Amazing salads. Salads are so pervasive here – they are even served at breakfast. I am 100% behind this concept. I’m talking about more than just the standard Israeli salad (tomatoes, cucumber, lemon juice), I dream of Bulgarian feta, fresh sweet peas, red onions, assorted greens and my new favorite spice – za’atar.
  • Massive breakfasts. Do you enjoy leisurely brunches where you graze for ages as you chat with friends? That’s pretty much any breakfast outing here. Whereas England is defined by the Full English Breakfast (something I have been DYING to have – soon!), Israel has it’s Israeli Breakfast which consists of many, many plates and bowls full of tasty things. Everything from Israeli salad to tuna salad to cheeses to fresh fruit. Don’t forget the basket of assorted fresh bread! And most restaurants automatically include a hot drink or juice of your choice with your meal. If you can walk away from an Israeli breakfast hungry – you fail at life.
  • Mint Tea. I love tea with only fresh mint in it. No tea bag needed.
  • Juice! My new personal favorite is a half orange juice/half pomegrante. So so good. Though give me a fresh squeezed lemonade with mint and I’m a happy camper too.
  • Okay, okay – there really is more to Israel than the food. Despite all my food talk. And photos. The People. As I mentioned in a previous blog post – I love the upfront, direct nature of Israelis. They are not a meek people. There is a popular allusion here that native Israelis are like the local plant, sabra (prickly pear). They are tenacious and thorny on the outside but soft and sweet on the inside. It is very true. It may take you a little while to make friends but once you do – you have a friend for life. They are emotional and not afraid to show it. They are all about touch – guy friends hug each other openly. A hand is almost always placed on a friend as you chat. There is a very strong sense of community here – unlike any other place I’ve ever lived. 
  • Shabbat. Though it can be a real pain to have everything shut down from sundown Friday until sunset Saturday – I really enjoy the concept of taking one day a week to stop, enjoy your blessings and eat with family and friends. Though I’m not Jewish – I enjoy the ritual of the lighting of the candles, blessing the bread and wine too. 
  • History. The history, the grandeur of the past can be seen everywhere you turn.  And, at the same time, you realize that you are a part of the history that is unfolding before your very eyes.
  • The Hebrew phrase – yiyeh b’seder. It translates to “it will be okay.” This is the Israeli response to just about anything life throws at you – Missed the bus? Yiyeh b’seder! Your dog died? Yiyeh b’seder! Rocket fire? Yiyeh b’seder! 
  • Cheesy pop music. I love that the randomest cheesy pop music is played everywhere. One day while having breakfast with a friend – the cafe went from Michael Jackson to Backstreet Boys to Wham. And no one batted an eyelash. Unfortunately, all this assorted music usually leaves me with silly songs stuck in my head at all times. 
  • Sports. I think it’s fantastic that a simple soccer game is more than just a group of guys kicking a ball. It’s politics, international relations and diplomacy all wrapped in 90 minutes. When a local team plays on an international level – it doesn’t matter if it’s soccer or basketball or what – the whole country stops to cheer them on. They are routing for the country of Israel as much as the boys out on the pitch.
  • Finally, I love this once in a lifetime experience. And I love even more, that it’s not over yet.

Thanksgiving – Israeli Style

24 Nov

Here in the dorms we have several people whose jobs are to keep the students entertained. In Hebrew, they are called Madrichim but they are basically social directors. They organize field trips, they have movie nights and they host meals at least once a month. On Thursday, they hosted an American Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, I am making a “national” distinction given we have Canadians here too who are sensitive that their own Thanksgiving was ignored and given that we walked into the dorm club to find the room had been decorated in an overwhelming amount of red, white and blue.

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Fourth of Ju…wait…Thanksgiving!

It was immediately apparent that our lovely social directors wanted us to feel at home and went to great effort to recreate such a sacred holiday…without actually consulting any Americans. From the strings of flags flying above our heads to the loud country music blaring on the stereo – it was Americana at it’s best. Yet, it wasn’t cheesy – it was touching.

The food was tasty – turkey, rice stuffing, lots of salad (to be expected here), green beans, corn, mashed sweet potatoes, red wine – they even had a version of pecan pie with a shortbread crust, toasted nuts all covered in dulce de leche. Yum! The International School Dean lead us in prayer and a small cheer for the cease fire before we dug in.

I sat with several friends from my department, as well as my roommate, Davie and some other friends. Our little group was composed of people from Canada, Poland, Columbia and from people all across the US – Iowa, Rhode Island, California, Arkansas and of course, Nevada. As we ate, we discussed prior memorable Thanksgivings – I told the story of Thanksgiving when I studied abroad in Germany and last year when I made dinner for friends in London. We talked about our Thanksgiving traditions at home and what our loved ones would be doing for dinner that night. Finally, our little group decided to list out what we were thankful for. There were many mentions of the cease fire, the Iron Dome and tasty, FREE food. I was one who listed the cease fire. As we continued to eat, laugh and grow more and more red cheeked from the free flowing wine – I found myself sitting back and watching everyone interact. Then I realized what I was actually most thankful for this year was this little group. Though I may be far from home and friends and family – I have carved my own little family here in Haifa. These are the people I depend on, who I’ve laughed with, who I’ve cried with and who make my time here so much more fun. I have no doubt that someday I will be sitting at another Thanksgiving table wistfully telling the tale of the time I spent Thanksgiving in Israel surrounded by flags, friends and “America, the Beautiful” blasting on the radio.

Classes Begin

21 Oct

Yesterday was an incredibly busy day. We started with an extended welcome to campus by the head of the International School and several other campus officials. All MA students were present. The university offers four International Master’s programs – Creative & Art Therapy, Peace & Conflict Studies, Maritime Civilizations and Holocaust Studies. These programs include both international and Israeli students. The welcome to campus was nice…but long! I was dying for coffee.

Afterwards, all the programs had the day off until it was time for tours. Our program chose to dive straight into classes so after inhaling a mega fast cup of coffee (random note – all coffee not bought at a coffee shop is instant. My time in New Zealand and England prepared me for this so I don’t really mind. Others on our program are not happy and thus spending heaps of money on nice coffee. I’ll stick with free and instant!) we were off for our first class – “Qualitative Research Methods.” After talking to many friends who’ve done grad school and hearing many horror stories about research classes – I was not looking forward to this class. It turns out – we have a fantastic professor and I think it’s going to be a great class! Yay! The thrust of the class this semester is about using people as research sources. We will be focusing on interviewing skills and investigative research. It should be fun!

As part of the introduction to the class, our professor had us go around and say our name, where we were from, our education and what our Holocaust “connection” was. After doing our symposium, I knew several people had family members involved but we really dove into it here. The stories were amazing to hear and I cried several times listening. One lady’s mother survived Auschwitz and never recovered from the experience. After her daughter started asking her questions about it, she slowly began to talk about her experiences. The memories haunted her so badly that she committed suicide. Another man’s grandfather survived three separate camps before being liberated by American troops. He weight 65 pounds when released. There was a child of a Babi Yar survivor. And the stories went from there.

This class was supposed to go until 11:45 and our next class was to start at 12:15. Unfortunately, we went way over and left our class late. On the way to the next class, our entire group got lost and we ended up half an hour late to the next class, by the time we finally found the building and room. The professor was completely unimpressed. This class is “The Second World War” and the class that I had to read a MASSIVE book for beforehand. We were given the syllabi for all courses a few weeks ago and I was pretty worried about this one kicking my butt. After going through the first class – I am not nearly as worried. The professor is very young but he is incredibly tense and strict. I think as long as I follow his set rules – I will do well in his class. It’s four hours once a week so I will make it work!

After all of our classes, we were to have a campus tour. Unfortunately, our WWII class went over and all of us missed the campus tour. This was okay since we were all starving at this point so we had a quick meal. I shared a lunch special from a coffee shop on campus with two students I’ve become close to. Victoria is from Columbia and in her mid-30s. After being diagnosed with MS a few years ago she completely re-evaluated her life and made many changes. Going back to school was one of them. Heather is an artist from Canada who could happily retire to enjoy her 3 adult children’s growing families but her love of learning brought her to this program. The three of us split a quiche and an ancient salad. At least the quiche was good!

We did catch up with the tour group to go on the city tour. They had hired a bus to take us down the hill and around town. We visited the Bahai Gardens, the Arab neighborhood (Wadi Nisnas) and the shuk (the open air market place). I really enjoyed finally seeing more of the city! I really liked the Arab neighborhood, which was mostly closed since Sundays are a day of rest from them. The market was great! Cheap food and incredibly tasty. I bought fresh bread, grapes, potatoes, eggs, cheese, salami (from a Russian market) and olives. This is where I will be doing most of my food shopping since it’s so much cheaper than anywhere else in town. It’s basically a year round farmers market but with more than just fruits & vegetables. I will try to post pictures once I have a strong internet connection. Unfortunately, the signal in the dorms is TERRIBLE! And totally unreliable. I have to say – it drives me nuts!!

After our tour we had time to eat dinner in the German Colony – an area of town that was originally settled by German Templar (not the Templar of Dan Brown fame!). It’s a super posh area with many restaurants. One of the girls who joined our group keeps kosher so we had to find a kosher restaurant for her. The place we ended up at, Cafe Cafe was good! I had a massive salad with fried cheese that come with the best homemade bread. I approve!

Once we finished dinner, we headed back to campus where I was thrilled to pieces to see my dorm room and go to bed! It was a long 12 hour day that was packed full!

On an unrelated note – several people have asked what kinds of foods have I been eating and what’s available. I have only eaten outside of my kitchen twice so far. I had dinner at a pub one night and had sweet potato ravioli with fresh tomato sauce (excellent!) and last night I had a fresh salad that was delicious. All restaurants on campus are kosher. This means no serving meat if you serve diary products (and vice verse, obs), no pork, no seafood unless it has fins and scales. So most restaurants tend to be vegetarian. It’s a vegetarian paradise! I have not had any meat yet but I hear there is a great place on campus that serves good and cheap hamburgers. I may try it tomorrow. Sadly though, no cheese on those burgers. 😦 I have to say the food is really good and always fresh. I have yet to try real hummus or felafel. Soon!

Gosh, typing about all this food makes me so hungry! I just woke up and now I’m starving for breakfast. I’d better wrap up this epically long entry. Let me know if you have any specific questions in the comments.

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Yum!

26 Jun

Good grief, I’m going to need to pack my skates if places like this exist in Haifa!

My friend, Ryan is currently in Haifa for a work trip. He posted this picture on Facebook of a sweet shop they stumbled upon yesterday while exploring the city in their free time. That’s all different kinds of baklava and other sweets. My stomach growled when I saw this. I think I’m going to like Haifa!

Adventures ahead

16 Jun

I have been slowly reading up on Haifa and the surrounding area. I have no clue how much time I will have to travel and explore. I already have a mini mental list going of places and things I’m looking forward to. I’m sure my list will continue to grow as my departure gets closer.

Places:

1) Acre – This ancient town lays on the other side of the bay from Haifa. The market is supposed to be really vibrant and interesting.

2) Jerusalem – One of the oldest cities in the world. So much history packed into one city.

3) The Dead Sea – Yep, I’m looking forward to the floating in all that salt water.

4) Masada – I remember watching a movie about the Masada in AP History. Though not your typical high school flick – it kind of stayed with me. Would love to do one of the sunrise hikes here.

5) Exploring the diverse neighborhoods of Haifa. Haifa is one of the only cities in Israel where Muslims, Jews and Christians co-exist with little problems. Each have their own distinct areas of the city.

6) Further afield I’d love to visit Petra, Jordan; Cairo & Alexandria, Egypt; Istanbul, Turkey (my friend, Cody will be studying there the same time I’m in Israel) and Nicosia, Cyprus (the only remaining divided capital in the world).

Experiences:

1) Living in a mediterranean country with the closest beach only 20 minutes from my dorm. Wonder if I can focus on my mountains of reading with the sound of waves crashing nearby…

2) I’ve lived only in Western countries. Though Israel is highly westernized – it still has a very strong Arabic influence. From the music to interpersonal interactions – it’s all going to be new. I’m looking forward to learning more about that. Random fact for the day – most slang in Israel isn’t Hebrew, it’s Arabic.

3) If you know me well, you know I’m a semi-foodie. I’m looking forward to all the new tastes and cuisines. Hummus, falafel, israeli salad, shwarma and stuffed breads. Given the mix of cultures that have come together in Israeli as Jewish immigrants from all over the world moved here – the cuisine is very diverse and incredibly tasty from what I hear.

4) I have to admit on a dorky/nerdy level – I’m really curious and fascinated to study my topic with people from all over the world. I know from my time studying in Germany – how they teach WWII and Holocaust history is distinctly different then how the American educational system covers it. Add in people from all over the world, from various backgrounds and I’m hoping for some really interesting discussions. From what I understand, I am the only American in the program. There are 12 Israelis and the rest of the group (for a total of 23) hail from all over the world.