Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Motorcycle Diaries

(Written 4/29/2011 from Tel Aviv, Israel)

If I didn’t know any better (which I’m pretty sure I don’t) I just saw an Israeli mafia transaction go down.  Okay…not really.  But it amused me as Roy, the owner of the hostel I'm staying at, was giving me a tour of Tel Aviv and we had to make a pit stop at the bank to pay the landlord of his new building…in cash. 
View from the bank on the 19th floor
The good news is there is so much security and military presence here that I feel completely secure and safe (even though I'm traipsing around like Tony Soprano's sidekick).  Riding around on the back of his motor scooter, however, is a different story.  I do realize that in many foreign countries motorcycles or scooters are in fact a mode of transportation and have less connotation of being for "bad asses”, but it still terrifies me to put my life in the hands of somebody else...let alone on something that moves while only balanced on 2 wheels.  (Maybe if it had training wheels I would feel safer?  Or handle bars with the streamers down the sides...) 

It doesn’t help that the first time I witnessed any sort of “wild and crazy” memories of my parents was when they returned from Tahiti and had to be airlifted to a hospital because they crashed a motor scooter and ended up temporarily in a wheelchair and the other pushing it one handed with a sling on the other arm.   
My Ma and Pa - Circa 1997
After a few devastating experiences on the motor scooter (probably only to me)...we stopped at the Wine and Dine festival looking out over the Tel Aviv port.  A great first night and introduction to Israel.

Day 2:  Began with sleeping in (finally!) and a trip to the beach.  I also explored the fascinating shuks (markets) in the city, and then settled into another night of empanada making.  Apparently this has become a fave of mine and although the prep time is long and laborious, it’s always fun to hang around with new friends while putting together the delicious little concoctions. 
Shuk Ha'Carmel in Tel Aviv

Of course this was too tempting that I couldn't NOT get one!
Bread with cheese?  Yes....duh....obviously.
Add to that the experience of shopping for all the ingredients and it’s a great way to immerse myself a little more into the culture.  I loved the myriad of markets and street stalls that have dried fruits, nuts, grains, etc. in big bins where you can pick out what you want.  Right there you can sample a dried mango (my favorite!) or any other type of delectable treat.  And instead of going to a big box retailer that supplies everything I had to go to a butcher, an olive guy, a raisin guy, a flour guy, etc.  I'm pretty sure Safeway and QFC wouldn't be too keen on me ripping open a can of peanuts on aisle 6 to "try" them.

While I slaved away at a pile of golden crisp, meat stuffed, sweet and savory carb critters I chatted with the hostel owner and the other guests.  I must admit that while people are waiting in the kitchen, coaxed out of their rooms by the promising aroma of meat and dough frying in oil, there is a tone of friendship.  We welcome in everybody to join in the eating and we talked for hours as we sipped wine and shared stories from around the globe.
Roy and Lucy with the bowl of empanadas!
Clearly I have a passion for food and about what happens around the table…a sharing of more than just the food itself.  My request for you today is to open up a relationship – and consider doing it with food.  Who is it that you want to get to know?  Is it the high powered exec at a local company whose brain you’d love to pick?  Why not take them out for lunch?  Or maybe it’s an old friend that you’ve lost touch with…how about making dinner at your place?  Or perhaps it’s the homeless guy who sits on Main street all day long…what about a sack lunch in exchange for a smile? 
After all…sharing a meal is more than just the food.

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