Esor Ben-Sorek

Dining a la Internationale

My daughter recently told me of a newly- opened kosher restaurant which specializes in Portugese cuisine.

For last night’s supper I dined on Portugese fried chicken ( ½ chicken deeply fried and seasoned with Portugese spices) accompanied with fried Spanish rice and well-seasoned Irish fried potatoes.

It mingled well with an Italian vegetable salad heaped with Israeli Arab-grown olives watered down with Israeli red wine.

And not to be left out, dessert was French carrot-cake, and steaming Brazilian black coffee.

Coronavirus be damned ! The entire international meal was chewed up by Israeli Jewish teeth and enjoyed by Israeli mouth-watering taste buds with mucho gusto !
I would happily have brought a platter of the delicacies to share with the masters of Balfour street, but why should I ? They don’t share their goodies with me, ergo, I need not share mine with them.

And if I had, they would have gobbled it all up quickly followed by tummy-aches blamed on me with the outcry that I was trying to poison them.
Netanyahu fake news again. So,,, what else is new> Created by master-chef Yair.

In Europe the favored international foods are those cooked, baked and served in French or Italian restaurants whereas in Israel it leans towards the Arab-style hummus-tehina, Italian eggplant salad, and of course the never-tiring-of ochel al ha aish… the grilled meats of an Israeli barbecue. A Bukharan one.

Foods once served on plates are now being served in wraps. Scraps of left-over meals once fed to our dogs at home are not saved to feed the hungry and homeless among us. My dog, Atara Carmit, for example, born in Jerusalem to a Jewish bitch and a Jordanian stud. And the result is so successful and so deeply loving, maybe it could be passed along to the two-footed creatures who walk upon this earth?

I still remember clearly, since it was not so many years ago, when it was considered a tragedy among many Israeli families if an Ashkenazi daughter married a Sephardi son or vice-versa. It was taught that we should marry one of our same breed.

It was our army and military personnel who succeeded happily to the exchange in the breeds among us.

Still I think it inconceivable that a Belzer Chassidic father would allow his daughter to be married to a religious but black Jew from Ethiopia. Jewish strong clans notwithstanding, the prejudices among us are very great.

And as for two of the same branch of Satmar male chassidim, for example, marrying a Belzer male chassid, even a gay marriage of two orthodox males or females would result in both families sitting shiva and mourning for the deaths which they had smeared on both of their sons.

Orthodox Judaism holds us steadfast to maintaining the centuries which preceded us and which they believe must follow after us. Our personal tastes have no authority to violate the observant laws given at Sinai, a mountain which is too steep for orthodox Jews to climb.

They may be successful in climbing up the steep cliffs, but only death will await them on the final descent.

Our economy is in shambles. Our faith is in tatters. Our disdain, nay, even intense hatred of our political chiefs, may be responsible for too many of our spiritual and moral deaths.

And like with the coronavirus, there is more yet still to come. No vaccine can be created to protect us from “sinat chinam”, willful hate. Only a one-hour view of the Knesset shouting at each other is visible proof of our despair. We are a people of a country which has lost its way.

When Hansel and Gretel were lost in a dark forest they threw bread crumbs on the ground to be for a sign to follow… to show them the right way to return safely home.

If we were to follow that example today, the birds of the skies would fly down and devour our crumbs, leaving us only in a dark forest of our own making.

It was said centuries ago that “birds of a feather flock together”. It may be fine for the birds but it is not fine for us.

Like my international supper meal, we must set our tables with either meat utensils or with dairy utensils. But both cannot be served at the same meal.

Leaders of Israel, beware ! Too many upset tummies can create a culinary revolution!

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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