Ok, it’s important to note a couple things here. First, I love Israel. Both A and I have spent considerable amounts of time there, and it’s an amazing place with amazing people, history, culture, and food. It’s also a complicated place in a political sense. Talking about Israel seems to always run the risk of rubbing some segment of the population the wrong way, and that’s not what these date nights are about.
Travel date nights are a way to celebrate the diversity of the world and some of the unique things a given country has to offer. They are a means by which we see a bit more than we normally would in a week, especially a week under quarantine where travel is really only a virtual exercise.
Some day, I will talk about Israel in a political sense, from my experiences being and living there, to my identity as a Jew. Today is not that day. Today we will just enjoy some of what this tiny sliver of land has to offer travelers.
Israeli-Themed Date Night
Eat: Shakshuka, Israeli Couscous, Rugelach
This was my first time making shakshuka, a dish that has become rather trendy at hipster brunch places. It’s basically eggs poached in a zesty tomato sauce (mine was seasoned with cumin, garlic, sweet paprika, and cayenne). I added chick peas for some extra substance since we were eating it for dinner. It’s finished in the oven to cook the eggs to your desired level of runniness.
Such a comforting dish!
The plan was to do an Israeli salad, as well as couscous, with it. But a last minute addition of my mom’s matzah ball soup meant a combining of these two sides. Israeli salad is made of cucumber, tomato, and parsley, sometimes with cheese. So I added all of those ingredients into the pearl (Israeli) couscous for a refreshing pasta-esque salad.
Couscous is fun to both say and eat!
The best rugelach – a rolled chocolate pastry – I’ve ever had was at a bakery in Maccabim, Israel, when I was studying Hebrew there during a summer in high school. At least, that is, until last night when A outdid herself yet again. Think of rugelach as kind of a chocolate pizza, with each slice being rolled up until it becomes these amazing things below.
When they are small you can eat more, right?
Learn: Six Day War
Trying to stay away from anything dealing with the dull current political situation, our dinner documentary focused on a past conflict between Israel and its neighbors. In 1967, war broke out, and in six days, Israel defeated the combined armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. This video talks about the strategies employed by both sides in a fairly objective way.
Experience: Israel Museum
One of the best collections of art and antiquities in the region, the Israel Museum is on google arts and culture’s street view! While some of the old Jewish artifacts really interested us, there are pieces of modern fine art, Muslim artifacts, and stuff from way before modern religion emerged, like this oldest mask in the world at more than 9,000 years old! Totally worth an hour.
Pretty good for 9,000 years ago!
This is the top rated Israeli television show on Netflix, following an ultra-Orthodox family in Jerusalem. I found the characters and story lines compelling, and will hopefully find time to watch both seasons. It is in Hebrew (and Yiddish) with subtitles.
Israel is a pretty amazing place, and the culture is worth exploring no matter your political views. I hope you enjoy this date!
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