It doesn’t happen often (oh, who are we kidding, it happens once a year when I manage to clean for Pesach), but every now and then I rummage through the back of my fridge to see what’s growing there and if perhaps it can be used in some way to advance medical science. Or something like that.
Last week, I decided to do a back-of-the-fridge-run, about six months ahead of schedule. There, laying in it’s own miserable muck was my pickle container.
In Israel, you open up your pickles, and to prevent them from retaining the taste of a tin can, you place them, along with the pickle juice in a container that was made especially for this purpose.
We always loved Israeli Pickles, even in America. Once we moved here, they became a staple and I found myself purchasing three or four cans a week.
That was because very early in the game I discovered Aruchat Eser — literally translated as the “meal at ten a.m.” This is the mid-morning breakfasty-lunchy-snacky time that all Israeli children (and I do mean all), enjoy, well, at about ten o’clock in the morning. It usually consists of a sandwich with something kind of vile spread inside it. Like chocolate cream [shudder].
I found this kind of confusing (but admittedly, I found so. many. things. confusing in our first days here). My kids were eating breakfast at home, then another sandwich at ten, then coming home at one for a hearty lunch (one of the most confusing things was how early the kids came home from school. It just wasn’t natural for kids to be….home with their mother so much.) That seemed like a lot of food to me. Then I realized that most Israeli kids don’t eat breakfast at home. So we cut that out of our morning routine and the kids were still late to school every day.
But I digress.
This is supposed to be about pickles.
As I held that sorry looking container of moldy pickles in my hands, I recalled the many pitas filled with chumus and pickles that I prepared to make their mornings Israeli special. I remembered the lachmaniyot filled with every imaginable thing that can be placed in a roll: yellow cheese or white, shnitzel or cottage, veggie patties or tuna fish (of course, Israeli. Mah ani, frayereet?) and who knows what else. But never chocolate spread. The pita-chumus-pickle combo phase lasted the longest. In those days the pickle container had a place of honor in our fridge. Front and center, right next to the bagged milk. (Which I also embraced from the very first day).
Those were good days, those early days of our Aliyah. We had no clue. Just happy to be here and to learn the strange ways of the natives. Shopping. Schools (never quite figured that out, but everyone seems to have been educated in spite of my ignorance). Family. Jobs. Friends. It was exciting to be living the dream. It was exciting and it was hard and it was wonderful and it was terrifying all at the same time.
And before I knew it, it was real life. It is real life. With all the ups and downs and sideways that real life throws at us. A life with all its natural rhythms and evolutions.
Only it is a life lived here in Israel.
I still have a can or two of those pickles in my pantry. We eat them occasionally. But I have no need for the container any more. Eight years ago, I probably would have thrown the entire container with those rotten pickles out. Not today. I trashed the pickles, washed the container and put it away.
The bagged milk though, is here to stay.
Happy Eighth Aliyah Anniversary to Isaac, Liat, Tali, Orli, Ozzy….and me.