Tuesday, June 3, 2008

From MacDo to Magnum

A few thoughts on my varied food experiences in Israel...

That's right, I sampled McDonald's ice cream in Jerusalem, and it's just as good.

When I started traveling internationally as a teenager, it was comforting to me to see McDonald's, Burger King, and Coca-Cola products in other countries. I am still fascinated by how each of these enterprises is marketed in other cultures: kosher McDonald's in Israel, Coke Zero in glass bottles in Paris cafés, two-story McDonald's in Beijing serving pineapple sundaes, Coca-cola logos painted on the streets in Guatemala in front of Catholic cathedrals. In Israel, hamburger patties were served on pita bread with tomato-cucumber salad and French fries. The McDonaldization of the world is happening, but not without some contextualization that keeps worldwide McDonald's packed. You know they're doing well in Jerusalem when you see signs blocks away from the restaurant pointing the way there! For better or worse, this is what I've observed in my travels.

On the other hand, Old City Jerusalem offers places like the Armenian Tavern, where one descends a staircase into a stone building to order stuff like this. To be honest, I wanted to try something new, so I just ordered an assorted plate of items I can't identify. The folded bread in the bowl is Armenian pizza (not very cheesy but tasty), the balls on the left are fried dough stuffed with ground meat, the dark sausage on the lower right was an intensely flavored something, and in the upper right there is a marinated dried kind of meat. An adventurous meal, even with the lack of food names.

Can't beat falafel! The best was freshly fried at Damascus Gate (only 7 shekels!), but this one was good too. I gotta learn how to make it from scratch.

Lovin' on the varieties of salads available at meals...this was the amazing dining hall at kibbutz vacation resort Ein Gev on the Sea of Galilee.

We had opportunities to buy these ice cream bars at every stop; they're unfortunately not distributed in the States. My favorite Magnum Desire bars have thick, quality chocolate on the outside, and rich, creamy ice cream with chocolate chunks on the inside.

Intense chocolate! Definitely worth the lactose pills.

And last but not least, Israeli s'mores ingredients: kosher pink and white marshmallows (strawberry and plain), Petit Beurre cookies (the Hebrew on the package is "Petit Beurre" transliterated), and milk chocolate bars. Some students claimed these were the best s'mores they'd ever had...

Isn't Israel fabulously diverse?

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