My husband and I recently flew to Israel on our own and spent several days acclimating to the time-change and sight seeing in the Tel Aviv area. We then hooked up with Zion’s Hope for an official tour. We saw and did so many interesting things in Israel that it’s difficult to put it all into words. (I’ve posted some of our photos from this trip, just so you can see them. Click Here for access to the slide show.)
Not really having preconceived ideas of what the food fare would be, it was wonderful to find an emphasis on whole fresh foods. Mild temperatures by the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River (which borders the country of Jordan to the east) allow citrus trees to grow fruit such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons. Other areas grow figs, dates, grapes, pomegranates and olives.
Fresh salads and fish are readily available. Olives and olive oil, hummus, tahini sauce, fish, cheese, lentils, eggplant, red and green peppers, falafels, etc. are some of the regional foods.
Fast food establishments were limited, unlike America with a fast food restaurant on every corner. You could say Israel’s most popular fast food is a falafel filled with grilled veggies. YUM!
I found it interesting that some on the tour were pining for McDs hamburgers and fries. They would hoot and holler when we passed a McDonalds (yes there are McDonalds in Israel). I found it not only a bit sad, but puzzling, because Israel has so many delicious fresh, colorful foods available. I guess it just goes to show you how conditioned Americans are to junk food.
Unfortunately, Israelis are one of the world’s largest consumers of soft drinks. Although, I was pleasantly surprised by the street juice vendors. These vendors have small tables loaded with fruit and veggies: carrots, beets, celery, strawberries, apples, melons, oranges, etc. Fruit shakes are made to order. You pick out the produce you want and it’s pressed through a large manual food processor, which separates the fiber from the juice. In a matter of a few seconds, you have a refreshing tasty whole-food drink. Now, I’d like to see these juice stands in America!
The hotel breakfasts are served buffet style. (I’ll write more about that in my next blog.) One of the tasty items for breakfast is their fresh squeezed orange juice. Oranges are locally grown in the Tel Avi/Jaffa area. They’re an excellent source of vitamin C and calcium.
How do you know the orange juice is fresh? Because you squeeze the oranges yourself! Oranges are set out. You cut them in half and then place them in a manual citrus juicer. The juice from about three small oranges, make a glass of orange juice. Talk about taste!