Thursday, April 30, 2009

61 More Things I Don't Love About Israel.

Israel turned 61 yesterday. Everywhere the number 61 was prominently displayed. HaMashbir was giving 61% off. It cost 61 Sheks to go to Jem's party. You get the picture.

My Pollyannaish wife, who sees the world through rose-tinted glasses, sent me a link to "61 more things I love about Israel", a blog entry on the Jerusalem Post website, posted by one Benji Lovitt. In true blackpetero spirit here are "61 more things I don't love about Israel".

1) I don't love the fact that driving in your lane in Israel is viewed as a recommendation not a requirement.
2) I don't love it when someone asks me "Mah Echpat Lechah" (What do you care), of course I care, fool, if I didn't I wouldn't have said anything.
3) I don't love it that any conversation with any group of guys eventually turns to who they were and what they did in the army.
4) I don't love it that many Hebrew websites (my bank for example and BG Airport's site) requires that you use Internet Explorer and do not support Firefox.
5) I don't love it that before Lag B'Omer the country's youth turn into thieves and plunderers. They
then proceed to burn any scrap of wood that they can find, all this, in a country that has like
5 trees. Not to mention the poor shopping carts that get tortured, flayed alive and then burned at the stake.
6) I don't love it that due to ridiculous insurance requirements, each Saturday we are subjected to
a chorus of house alarms that everyone ignores. If you don't use your alarm, after your burglary, they won't pay.
7) I don't love the jelly fish that clog up the beach in July and August.
8) I don't love the fact that our beaches in Herzliya are often closed (for the last three weeks) due
to the high level of sewerage in the water.
9) I don't love Bibi.
10) I don't love the people who double park on the main street and block off one lane while they pop in to the local kiosk to buy cigarettes.
11) I don't love the fact that when people miss an exit or a turn off, they will happily reverse or (gesticulating madly with their hands out their windows) cut across all the lanes and disrupt the traffic, rather than make a U turn at the next light.
12) I don't love that the food is set out in a semi random way in the supermarket, and the layout differs from supermarket to supermarket, even those of the same chain.
13) I don't love kids that accost you at a traffic light for a ride (Tramp Lahatz).
14) I don't love that instead of peace and quiet when you go camping, you're subjected to crowded campsites, Russian disco, and the sound of bottles breaking all night.
15) I don't love that opening a packet of chips requires extreme and unnecessary force, an often resulting in half the contents flying all over the place.
16) I don't love that the cling wrap here does not cling.
17) I don't love that none of my daughters friends parents seem to have cars.
18) I don't love that you are expected to attend every brit/brita, bar/bat mitzvah and wedding of every person and of the children of every person you know. And you need to pay big.
19) I don't love that even though gas costs $1.25 a liter there are so many huge 4x4s on the road, that you wonder why they're paved.
20) I don't love the whole shaved head look so prevalent in the High Tech industry. Hey dudes, real men grow hair.
21) I don't love the fact that almost all the cashiers at my local supermarket look so sour, that one glance from them and the milk in my groceries curdles.
21) I don't love that there are separate verb genders for male and female in Hebrew. It's confusing to remember that stomach is female, or is it male?
22) I don't love that while the Kupat Holim, ministry of transportation, even the police station uses numbering systems to ensure no line cutting, getting onto a bus is still a free for all.
23) I don't love that it's impossible to have a discussion about politics in this country without someone bringing up the Holocaust and "haven't the Jewish People suffered enough".
24) I don't love the fact that Macbooks cost 1.5 times what they cost in the civilized world.
25) I don't love that any open piece of ground quickly becomes a garbage dump for people's refuse.
26) I don't love the hard water that coats the inside of the kettle, hot water heater and dishwasher.
27) I don't love that it's common place to stick hebrew ingredients stickers over the directions in english on packaging.
28) I really don't love vespa drivers, who insist on overtaking you at the traffic lights, then crawl forward blocking your progress.
29) I don't love that even when you request an itemized phone bill not it's not really itemized. It just gives you totals for things like incoming, outgoing and oversea calls.
30) I don't love the random ways banks charge commission, bank charges and overdraft fees.
31) I don't love seeing drivers picking their noses in traffic.
32) I don't love listening to people's cell phone conversations in restaurants, movies, weddings, funerals, while jogging and especially on the bus in the early morning.
33) I don't love the fact that put any Israeli in front of a TV camera and his first words will be giving advice to the government.
34) I don't love how people refuse to pull over for ambulances. I really don't love how they tailgate ambulances as a way to pass the few cars that do pull over.
35) I don't love the absolute obsession with not being a fryer (a Sucker).
36) I don't love the fact that Israeli soccer sucks so much, yet they keep pouring money into it. Spread the money around chaps there are other sports besides soccer and basketball.
37) I don't love the fact that English words written in Hebrew are almost impossible for me to decipher.
38) I don't love that when you ask for a simple coffee at Arcaffe, it comes with 70% milk. All I want is coffee flavored coffee.
39) I don't love the fact that finding a parking in Tel Aviv is more difficult than finding an honest mechanic for your car.
40) I don't love the "Ben Gurion Worm Hole" - the fact that in each airport where planes leave for Ben Gurion, while waiting for your flight, you may as well be in Israel.
41) I don't love that it's commonplace to see drivers pull over to the side of the highway to relieve themselves. Couldn't you walk just a few paces away from the road, so we don't need to see you pee.
42) I don't love that it's so hot in summer that getting into your unshaded car can cause first degree burns.
43) I don't at all love the fact that google Israel decides that you automatically want to set your cookie to
44) I don't love that it can take an hour to drive the 8KM from my home to work, while to walk only takes an hour and a quarter.
45) I don't love the fact that running shoes cost double here than in the US.
46) I don't love the fact that after Yom Haatzmaut, the cities need to bring in extra crews to clean the mountains of garbage left by picnickers.
47) I don't love the fact that every time I ride my bike, I feel I'm risking life and limb.
48) I don't love the fact that so much dust collects in the house that we've seen camel trains trekking across our lounge.
49) I don't love that my squints have to do Miluim.
50) I don't love that my boy has to spend three years in the army, and my girl two.
51) I really don't love that I have to work on a Sunday.
52) I don't love that it's hard to find Marmite, and when you do it costs an arm, a leg and a liver.
53) I don't love that there are hardly any trees and all wood needs to be imported.
54) I don't love that only a vast minority of people clean up after their dog's (Mah Echpat Lechah again).
55) I don't love that every Israeli movie is either soft-porn or some depressing war saga.
56) I don't love that the sound in movie theaters is usually so bad that it's necessary to read the Hebrew subtitles even in English movies.
57) I don't love that it never rains from April to November.
58) I don't love that the barriers on the railway crossings go down at least 3 minutes before the train passes.
59) I don't love the "expert" Israeli sport commentators that talk over the real expert commentators during the Olympics, Superbowl, tennis, gymnastics etc.
60) I don't love that road signs have no consistent way of spelling towns like Petach Tikva (or Tikqa or Tikwa).
61) And I especially hate how dammed hard it was to come up the preceding 60.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


It's been an exhausting day. Yom Haatzmaut (Independance Day, Israel is 61) always is. We had the usual hoard over last night for a BBQ and fireworks. Raanana's fireworks were rather subdued this year in keeping with the economic atmosphere. The food was great though, and everybody arrived with excellent salads, drinks and various animal parts. And everyone helped clean up. Today we went over to wish Jeremy luck with his new venture, Jem's Beer Factory. They had BBQ for close friends and family. It's a microbrewery/pub/restaurant/concert venue in Petach Tikva. The place looks great and they can all be proud of the work they put in. I wish them a lot of luck.

From there it was a quick visit at B+I and then a stop at R+R to see blackwifeo's family. There is a slightly cool breeze blowing through the bedroom windows. The house is quiet. I am perfectly full. I hear my little bed calling..........

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Leonard Cohen

Last year Leonard Cohen embarked on his first concert tour in 15 years. Word is, his ex business manager ripped off most of his money and he was out to recoup some cash. Last month the DVD and CD of his first concert "Live In London" was released. I bought it immediately and we listened to it on the road in Hungary. Pitchfork are hosting the complete DVD for one week only. Go watch it all immediately (here). His version of "Who by fire" is great. And "Everybody Knows", sounds like prophecy for the tough times we are facing:

NOTE: I have had to remove the video and instead (the video has been removed, sorry). I cannot bear the autostart and there appears to be no way to turn it off. 80% I tell you.

Thanks Yuval for pointing me to this.

p.s. (You can now ignore this message) I realize that this video breaks the cardinal rule and starts immediately when you navigate to this page. This is completely unacceptable. I have tried and searched for a way to prevent this, but to no avail. It's very 80% of me. If I can't find a way to fix this in the next day or two, I will remove the video. Please accept my most humble apologies.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pig Out

Just when you thought it could not get more ridiculous. Our Deputy Health Minister (no one wanted to be the minister), Yakov Lizman, who is Ultra-Orthodox, decided that "Swine Flu" is not kosher and we in Israel will have to call it "Mexican Flu". I'm not making this up I wish I were that original.

So what's next. Spigots will from now on be called smexicanots, pigments, will be meximents and your epiglottis will from now on be your emexiclottis. These rabbis' pigheadedness is typical.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Facebook Observations

So I admit it. I do check Facebook from time to time. And I admit that I have hooked up with some old friends and yes I even enjoyed these exchanges. So Facebook has turned out not to be the devil in the thinly veiled disguise I first thought it was. My appreciation for it increased considerably once I found out you can silence overly vocal people by "unfriending" them, and they need never know. I still hate that whole "wall" thing. What's wrong with email? And I swear I will never play WordTwist or Scrabbelicious or whatever it's currently named.

But for facebook, I would have missed John's pointer to God's surprise visit to a local church in The Onion. Which led someone to post a pointer to this article, in my opinion the all time best of The Onion, it was posted shortly after 9/11.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tel Beit Shemesh

I didn't blog yesterday. I just didn't feel like it and it's good therapy to show one's obsessions who's boss. Walking to Shabbat dinner at the family (horribly noisy and extremely loud) I got to spectate on a most excellent sunset. Nice work God.

Ever the intrepid explorer, I got up at 5:30am this morning and coaxed bso out of bed at 6. The destination was Tel Beit Shemesh. One of the archeology lectures that I attended was given by the guy in charge of the dig there. He showed many slides and gave an interesting talk about this border region, stuck between the biblical Kingdom of Judah and the lands of Israel and the Philistines.

So the boy and I set off to Beit Shemesh. The roads were empty except for the scores of cyclists driving off into the wilds. Of course, this being Israel there are no signposts or any indication pointing to the site. So we drove past and visited the Monastery of Beit Jamal, we walked around and saw a fox and some remarkable birds . It was way too early for the Monastery, so we decided to try find the Tel one more time.

After many false starts down various dirt roads, we finally found it. There were arches and walls, which were once houses . According to that bestseller, The Bible, Beit Shemesh was the birth place of the Mighty Samson, who's eye for saucy Philistine women was his undoing. He was born between Zorah and Eshat'ol, right there over the boy's right shoulder .

According to the lecture, it's clear that this was a Jewish settlements, because in all the surrounding Philistine villages, many pig bones were found in the refuse pits, but very few were found on the Tel. It's also clear that there were public buildings on the site , which points to the fact that this was an important part of the defenses of Jerusalem. Parts of the impressive fortified wall still exist .

The reason I was there though, was because of the reservoir. This water system is one of the only ones found that was in use in biblical times. We found the entrance, unlocked and open, and climbed down the rock carved steps . The reservoir was in use for many hundreds of years, it was carved deep into the rock and the water was collected using jars, through this hole in the roof . Unfortunately, us intrepid explorers brought no flashlights, so we could not explore any deeper.

Above ground, spring was everywhere. On the far side of the Tel lives what looks like a family of Bedouin, and their goats . The flowers were particularly spectacular. There were "wild carrots" and some sort of thistle (I think, the internet sometimes lies) . Of course there are all sorts of cacti .

On the way home we tried to avoid all the hundreds of cyclists on the roads . And, of course, stopped for bagelle and falaffels for breakfast, and had to wake the poor chap . The fallafel were perfect, dipped in the zatar (black spice, called Sumac I believe) he rolled up in a napkin . We crunched and munched all the way home, making a huge mess in the car. Great time.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I'm Going Nuts

I like nuts. Always have. I particularly like almonds. Pistachios aren't bad either. Now I know some of you will think this is a trivial thing, but you go telling that to the poor chap who breaks a tooth because some inconsiderate mixed the pistachios in with other, shell-less nuts. This has got to stop. I have noticed it happening more and more of late. You'll go to a friend's house or a "school" function or even god forbid a beer bust at work. There will be beer, and possibly that excellent party mix of crunchy bits of spiced monosodium glutamate balls mixed with crispy, salted, baked breakfast cereal left-overs. And often, you'll find, a bowl of mixed nuts. My favorite. One grabs a handful, and just as you think you're biting down on a hazelnut or one of those coated peanuts, for some bizarre reason called "American Nuts" here, your mouth explodes with the bitter and brittle snap of the pistachio shell. You count your teeth and make sure none are missing, find a napkin and do the subtle "spit of mashed nut and shell, disguised as a yawn" maneuver. It's never pleasant.

Listen people. Nuts with shells, go with nuts with shells. Pistachios, in a bowl, with other pistachios - with a separate bowl for the shells nearby. You can mix in selected nuts in their shells, but I think pistachios are loners and we should respect that. Nuts with no shells: almonds, cashews, peanuts, brazil nuts, macadamias, can all be mixed. I really shouldn't have to explain this to you.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dumb Luck

I was quite lucky. The feuckers (pronounced with French intonation, in homage to my brother-in-law) that broke into our house over our holiday, never touched my tools or guitars (or whisky for that matter). The little block plane above. a Stanley #18, Type 13, was made sometime between 1920-1929, when they still made tools to last. I don't remember what flea market or old tool show I picked this up at, and, honestly, it's not one of the more valuable tools I own. But, it struck me today, while I was planing maple the binding on Eddie's dreadnought, that had they ripped off my tools, I would be completely lost. The computers are just dumb pieces of silicon, plastic and metal, but my tools have soul, each one has a history.

I even managed to find an old backup of from November, so I haven't lost that much data. It's horrifying for me to think what could have been. I can now understand bwo's pain at having lost jewellery handed down from her Gran. I was plain lucky.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Psycho Killer

The above clip needs no intro. It's David Byrne of Talking Heads, with the acoustic version of Psycho Killer from the opening of their 1983 concert movie "Stop Making Sense". More pure genius.

What is not so good is blogger's auto format that clips the view so you'll need to do some work with the scroll bar. Sorry, the YouTube version, while better visually has a serious sync problem.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Las Meninas

I've been watching a documentary series called Great Artists, presented by Tim Marlow. I have enjoyed every minute of it. Tonight I watched the episode on Diego Velázquez, and was struck dumb by this picture called Las Meninas (The Maids of Honor) which he painted in 1656. Wikipedia has a huge article on just how groundbreaking this painting was - it's well worth a read. I love the concept that it's actually a portrait of the Spanish King and Queen, who you can see in the mirror on the back wall. They're standing exactly where the viewer is, in front of the painting. You can see Velázquez himself on the left. I particularly like the surprised look on the faces and the dude on the right kicking the dog. Pure genius, nothing 80% here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

From Around The Web

At first I thought the picture above was a troop of Wookiees on parade at a Star Wars Convention. But lead article on the Haaretz website claims these are crack Iranian troops parading in their new camouflage. Well they'd definitely go unnoticed on the planet Kashyyyk.

More sobering is this YouTube clip by the "NationForMarriage" on why gay marriage is bring Satan down upon the USA. The parody by Stephen Colbert on his show, I thought to be pretty good (look 3:30 mins into the clip). But my favorite parody is this one using xtranormal, a very cool site. While I fully support the fight for gay marriage in the U.S. it would be nice if we could get some of the same passion behind the fight for a simple civil marriage here in Israel.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Around Lake Balaton

I got up really early this morning and went to the sea. I had a great time clambering over rocks and avoiding getting wet. I came home with many pictures and an idea for today's photo blog, but then I got to thinking. Our trip to Hungary is slipping away into the mists. So I decided to rather document the time we spent around Lake Balaton. I will cover Budapest one day in the future. As always you can click on any picture to get it full size.

Club Dobogómajor is situated on the outskirts of the little spa town of Heviz. It's close to Lake Balaton, a huge 70km long lake near the Hungarian border with Austria. Our unit was very nice, on the third floor, we had a great view of the town in the distance .

Heviz itself is a picturesque little town. It has a single main street dominated by the town church
it's especially pretty in the evening . As in any resort town there are many stores selling goods to tourists . Never fear my family can always find stuff to buy. The public gardens in Heviz were all extremely well cared for and very pretty

Heviz is famous for its hot water lake and spa . The water is a constant 30 degrees, the outside air was considerably cooler in the early morning when I took the picture. We enjoyed a morning at the spa, the hot water, filled with lily pads, was soothing enough that even bwo took a dip .

Lake Balton itself is huge and surrounded by castles. We climbed up the castle at Szigliget and the view of the lake was spectacular . We enjoyed the sunshine on the mountain top . Surprisingly there was almost never anyone about in any of these castles . A little up the road from our hotel we exlored this weird wooden tower Entrance fees to all sites were usually minimal, it cost a $1.50 to get to the top of the tower.

One morning we took off to Vienna. All I wanted to see was the Kunsthistorisches Museum . It's a spectacular place and home to one of my favorite paintings, "The Towel Of Babel" by Pieter Breugel The Elder .

Foodwise, the vegetarians amongst us ate a lot of bread, cheese and potatoes, the carnivore ate a lot of goulash. We cooked a lot of our own food in unit's kitchen , and enjoyed interesting drinks and cakes (the Hungarian lemons are excellent) . We made our own seder complete with fake chicken soup and matza balls, check out our seder plate .

All in all we have a wonderful time. The Hungarians are friendly and kind to visitors, the country is beautiful, the weather was perfect and it wasn't even too expensive. We were sad to leave.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The One Finger

After a day of being "churlish and rude" to my beloved bwo, I was not going to blog to show that I am not obsessed. But, at Shabat dinner, excellently put together with love by bwo, the discussion turned to what is undoubtedly a new anthropological phenomenon here in Israel. We call it the "one finger".

Israeli's are well known for their extensive use of simple gestures that speak volumes. There's the well known shrug of the shoulders that expresses the hopelessness of the world and man's inhumanity to man. There's the palm upward cupping of all five fingers that beseeches you to be reasonable and wait a moment. There's the "wave", left hand out of driver side window wave, palm opened followed by quick flicks of the wrist, indicating move along now (these are not the droids you're looking for), typically accompanied by the words "Sahh, Sahh".

Recently we have noticed a new gesture. A single finger (usually the first finger of the right hand) nonchalantly lifted from the steering wheel to express a simple "thanks" or "you're welcome". The face remains dead pan, no muscle moves, but for this single finger. It's very powerful, you should try it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Enough is Enough

If one more person sends me a "You Just Have To See This" pointer to Susan Boyle's "incredible" performance on Britian's Got Talent I will hunt them down and poke them with a stick (hard). I have nothing against Susan, and her performance was excellent, but enough is enough. I got 11 pointers to the YouTube video today. As long as I can remember I have been on a personal quest to stop people listmailing me jokes/or chain mail or blood and lymph donations or "funny" YouTube videos or "the truth" about the Israeli situation.

But, no matter how blunt or adversarial I've been(and believe me I can be blunt and adversarial), some people just don't seem to get it. Most of them are rather new to the internet. Some are just incredibly thick skinned. Listen guys, those jokes you send out, they're usually not funny at all. Yes, and make sure you check the blood drive for the kid with an incurable disease on snopes before you spam the world. Many of us get dozens and dozens of emails daily and we don't want any more. So unless you have some truly rare footage of a Tom Waits and Nick Cave duet singing a Mountain Goats song backed by the Arcade Fire, I'm not really interested. Oh, and make sure my name is the only one on the To: line. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Uselessness In Film

If there is one thing that is totally hopeless here in the Holy Land its the sarran (or cling or glad) wrap. The rubbish stuff we get here (note the "Fresh cling" above) does not adhere. The single reason this plastic film exists is to stick to things. No way. This stuff will only stick to itself, usually on the roll so it's impossible to separate and use. It never sticks to bowls or dishes or plates. Completely useless. Its another of those things, like international calls and masking tape, that due to the pressures of internationalization and price reduction have been driven so cheap and lean as to have become useless.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

No Locks Please, We're Hungarian

Above is a picture of the lower floor of our lovely suite at Club Dobogomajor in Heviz, Hungary. Nice place. See the red circle. That's the bathroom door. Hungarians don't believe in keys for their bathrooms. Nowhere did we find working bathroom locks (except in very public toilets). Even the Hilton Hotel, in Budapest, had no locks on the bathroom door. What is it with Hungarians, do they like to walk in on each other in the bathroom? Do they always shout out "Is This Bathroom Currently Free?". Blackfamilyo being mostly vegetarian, make good use of bathrooms, the lack of locks made life quite difficult. We needed a prearranged protocol to avoid any mishap. It was decided a towel over the handle would signified occupancy, and this functioned in a satisfactorily manner. One's bathroom must be a place of quiet and meditation. No wonder Hungarians are ill at ease.

Monday, April 13, 2009


We are back in the swing of things. No more bitching and moaning about the 80% robbery for the time being (but be warned, I'm far from done). One of the more useful things about Israel is a tradition where the company gives you gifts twice a year. Once at New Year and once at Pesach. It's compensation for the time you have to spend with your extended family over these holidays. Even though we managed to miss the seder, while living it up in Hungary, my Pesach gift from squint central was waiting patiently in my office for my return.

This year we got to choose the perfect gift for a squint - something connected to a plug. I figured here at bfo hq, we needed a new toaster oven, as our old one (the battered device on top in the picture) had one foot in the grave. Little did I expect that 500 sheks buys one a serious oven. Check it out (its the bottom one in the above picture, duh). It can toast 9 slices of bread simultaneously. It has a rotisserie function for roasting tofu (it's specially made). It heats up quickly and has a serious BING! when done. I love Daryl the DeLonghi. He's gonna change my life.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

We're Back

First things first. Thank you to my awesome guest bloggers. You guys did an amazing job. We were pretty far away from any decent internet access, so I only got to read the last few days postings a short while back. What can I say, I'm faklempt. You took 80% to a whole higher level.

We got home a few hours back. I got to see the damage to our lives first hand. What can I say. We were lucky. The fuckers only took computers (every single one of the eight in the house), jewelery and money. They left everything else. The irreplaceable stuff like some of Jo's jewelery and the photos, is what really bites. Our two websites,, five years of pictures and text on my guitar building, along with, with years of family pictures are no more. The killer is that all this was backed up twice. Once to an crappy old 700Mhz PC as well as a portable disk. The fuckers took both. They left nothing.

I have already had my first run in with the insurance company. They're trying to stiff us out of compensation. I am sure I will get to bitch about them in great detail in the future.

But... Hungary was great. The Lake Balaton area was just perfect for us, not too much to do, but far enough away from our daily lives that it was a complete holiday. Gilad met us on Tuesday (to be greeted with the fact that his lovely computer we had just built was gone) after a week exploring the ins and outs of the Holocaust on a school trip in Poland. From that point on we were complete. I love my family. They got up at 7am when necessary, no complains. They traipsed up and down mountain sides and swam in hot water springs. We sang along to Nick Cave, Modest Mouse and The Wall, introduced the kids to Apostrophe and Overnight Sensation, ate way too much potatoes and cheese and drank strangely carbonated salty water. It was great.

This is not much of an update, but more in the future. Thanks again to all the guest bloggers, you guys rule.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Chicken soup!

With Jo Pete and the kids away, my family decided that we can and MUST have a completely carnivorous Pesach (being so deprived when the vegetarians are around).

So the matriarchal council (which I am not part of, being the white goat that can’t cook) decided that Fran was making the brisket (I still don’t understand what part of the cow that is…), my mom was making the fish, the chopped liver (that she nearly made out of real liver-god help us) and TWO chickens (“cause maybe there won’t be enough food” - for all of 20 people…), and I was to make the chicken soup. Well, Yann was to make the chicken soup (and two vegetables).

Now with me not being able to make any soup and Yann being half goy, things seemed quite scary. Why couldn’t we just make a salad? Oh wait, that’s Ari and Denise’s job! Yann wanted to make some Tunisian Pesach recipe but mom is firmly against anything that does not strictly comply with the “chag menu”(it won’t be chag if you don’t have those boiled, bland fish balls in water sauce, with a slice of carrot on top, that only the older generation eats anyway, or in this case, if you have some sort of “frenk” dish…).

So a week ahead of time I decided to go buy the poor chicken before the chug frenzy. Now for a first timer, buying a chicken is no small affaire. First of all, do you get a fresh or frozen chicken? Which is more likely to really be fresh? Second, which damn part of the bird would one use in a chicken soup.

So I stopped some woman who thought that I was from another planet and asked for advice. She very slowly and nicely explained that fresh chicken is good and that necks or wings are great for soup, and that I must just remember to boil the meat before putting it in the soup to get all the fat (I found out later that it is called SCUM) off….

This was all getting a bit too much for me. Necks and wings blaaaa. So I decided to go for the frozen chicken thinking that if the “cold chain” had been relatively well kept we are probably quite safe from salmonella and rotten meat. Unfortunately for me, no frozen chicken to be found, so I was forced to go to the fresh chicken counter.

Standing about a meter away from the “vitrine” I asked yet another woman for her advice. I finally decided on “yerechaim” (it’s the thigh and the leg together) and moved a little closer to the unpacked meat. As the smell hit me I started to get a slight choke-heave reflex which forced me back. Why ? Why did I have to do this?! I caught the dead-end frozen chicken stand out of the corner of my eye and felt distressed. My heart pounding, my face hot, my legs weak I moved very slowly towards the packed chicken counter. I couldn’t give up now!

I walked up and down looking for the bloody (literally) yerechaim. I have to say that it looked better in the plastic. I stood there for a while looking at the women (yes there were only women there) choosing theirs. I summoned up the courage and picked one up. I put it right back. Picked up another. Put that one down too. Blaaaa. How do you know? One looked too gray, another too pale, the next too bloody. Blaaaa. Eventually I picked one up and asked the woman next to me if it looked ok to her? With a very surprised look she nodded yes at me. I apologetically told her it was my first chicken buy. She looked at me like I was crazy and while nodding gave me one of those frozen “this woman is a nut” smile.

I put the packaged meat on the little thingie that opens in the cart so it wouldn’t contaminate anything and made a B-line for the till, wishing I had some gooo to sterilize my hands that had chicken juice on them (I was forced to wipe them on my jeans...).

Even though I was told that I should clean the chicken before freezing it (80% clean chickens), I just stuck it in the freezer and figured that Yann could deal with it the following week, which he did very seriously. He literally shouted at me because I only bought 2 yerechaim. “yooo onlie gat tooo” said my froggie, “yooo nid a ole chikun fore chickun soop”. Suddenly he became an expert…!. Couldn’t he have told me that the week before? Or even better couldn’t he have gone to get the bloody bird?

Oh well, the soup turned out great. Yann went to great lengths to make it as authentic a possible, including making a stock, letting it sit the whole night and making the soup the next day. He also didn’t stop teasing my mom (the Yannush he is), telling her that his chicken soup is better than hers. He was so chuffed with the soup that he now wants to make it “often”. Oh god, what did I get myself into?

Yours sincerely, the 80% chicken buyer.

Where I Live ....

Hello 80% readers, here is elra, and I am one of BPO guest posters. I was reluctant to do it, since I don't really feel that I can write well. But, BPO assure me that I'll be fine. You see, I am not a confident person, and since he is my husband's cousin (of course he is my cousin too), what can I say other then say "ya okay, of course I'll do that"

Not sure what is the 80% about where I live, but I'll try ... maybe these things are the 80% about this small town ...
  • Not everybody has access to sewer system, so you must put your own septic when you built your house, and that can be very costly. When you finally do, a few years later your neighbor comes to ask whether you will be interested to put a new sewer line, by then it's too late. Why would you? after spending ten of thousands, now you have to put a new sewer line just because your neighbor wants to?
  • I am very happy when this guy built a more then 10,000 sq foot house just 3 houses down from my house. BUT some of my neighbor are whining about it. Its too big, its doesn't make sense, what is he thinking about, that's ashamed, and so on ... Now I start to wonder whether they thought the same when we build our house (though ours was not nearly as big).
  • I love all the parks near by our house, but they all come with warning "be aware of mountain lion, rattle snakes", you see I am scared of them! For me it would be a 100% without them.
  • Horse poop .... this is the most annoying thing, especially when it is right in front of your house.
  • It's absolutely 100% for me but not to my friends who live in different towns. you see, we don't really have street lights. You are not allowed to put light in your gate or drive way for example. They want to keep the town as dark and as private as possible at night (that's why we chose this town) BUT, when we have guests, most of them complain that they couldn't see a thing, they can't find the house number (most likely every house number is hidden and the numbers are too small to read at night without streetlight, it is already hard enough to find the nmuber during the day ) SO, if you come to visit your friend for the first time in this town, most likely you will get lost, even if you been here once or twice, you still can get lost. Ask BPO if you don't believe me, I think he missed and passed our house couple of time at night...
  • They are too many bicyclists, some are very rude and don't want to share the road, although they know that they are having a hard time to bike up the hills and the roads are windy, the rude biker won't move and be courteous enough to let any car pass them, don't even think of honking them, they might give you middle finger ....
  • I think people charge you more money for services when they know that you live here.
  • I don't think you are allowed to park on the street, I almost never seen anybody park on the street (I heard that you can get a ticket for that, I am not sure) Maybe there is an excuse, sometimes I see people park on the street if they have a party and their drive way is already too full to accommodate those cars
  • Other than that, I love living here.... it's perfect... according to BPO it's 100%, hmmm really? Because, ....
  • This is the guest shower, I know the shower was not even close to 80% (don't worry BPO, J says he fix the shower/pressure), but I hope BPO at least happy with the view, though not really 100%.
  • This is (guest bedroom) where BPO sleeps when he come to CA, and this is the view from BPO's bedroom's window as soon as he open the curtains. I hope BPO at least happy with the view, though not really 100%.