Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Airplane Food Review (TAMAM) Part 2


The chicken was slightly saltier than I like, and I like my chicken barely cooked - this was well done, but not overcooked. The potatoes were great. The vegetables were flavored well, but I didn't like the peppers. Overall 7/10 I'd eat it again, but I wouldn't look forward to it. 


This morning, I tried the Blintzes - One sweet cheese, one apple, in vanilla cream, not overly sweet, but definitely sweet. I thought it was delicious. Kinneret (13) didn't like the apple, and didn't try the cheese, because I was already eating when I discovered that there was a second one, and we're germophobles. 9/10, yummy dessert or breakfast.

Bulgarian Salad

Fresh and good.
There was lettuce (not pictured) and the peppers were ... not yummy (according to me and Kinneret) 
There was no zaatar on the cheese, and the dressing was Thousand Island (good). Kinneret said the cheese was too salty... but um. it's Bulgarian cheese.  Overall, good salad, certainly for the price - I've paid 30 for less impressive salads. The salad is a full meal for someone who isn't a big eater, or would be good with a sandwich for someone who eats the entire universe (like me). 8/10 -would definitely eat again, would absolutely throw out the peppers again.


Meatballs-String Beans- Rice

Fry said the meatballs and rice are good, but found the string beans chewy. (undercooked?) 
He says he'd eat it again, but it's not his favorite. 

I tried it and the meatballs were good, not great, and the string beans were slightly undercooked and oversalted. The rice was fine

7/10 - Satisfying, reasonably tasty. too much salt. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Airplane Food Review (Tamam) Pt 1

I have a crazy love of airline food, so when I saw Tamam was offering to let people buy airline meals, I ordered a whole bunch of different things, and I'll be reviewing it here: 

Cornbeef bagel - the "bagel" is a regular roll with a hole in the middle. It has a tomato-pepper sauce on it that I didn't like. Lots and lots of pickles, and sauerkraut. Not tons of meat, but I wasn't expecting a New York deli. Rating it 6/10. I'd eat it if I were hungry, but it's not great. 

Meal with Schnitzel, Couscous, and Vegetables:  This seems to not exist on the website, so I am putting the closest picture I could find. I had a bit of schnitzel and it was pretty good, but I can buy that at any supermarket. My son said he didn't like the couscous and veg. I'll have to check it sometime. 

Fresh vegetables with thousand Island sauce - yum 10/10

Fresh Fruit - tasty and clean, good mix. 10/10 - would be great to keep in a cooler on a tiyul

I look forward to updating more in the future. I ordered a whole bunch more stuff. 

Monday, February 17, 2020

Successful Aliya

Aliya -- to rise up. 

For a Jew, moving to the land of Israel is considered rising up, going home.

Recently someone asked what constitutes a successful aliya.

Often people come from America, England, or other countries, and end up miserably regretting their decision or even leaving Israel and returning to their country of origin

That's obviously not a successful aliya, but what is? How do you define success?

So here's my definition: 

It's successful when you've finished the honeymoon, been through rough parts, and are still happy to be here and wouldn't prefer to live somewhere else.

Someone responded that they'd never seen an "aliya honeymoon" so I described my experience, one which resonated with many of my friends. 

Have you never talked to a new oleh "fresh off the plane" who thinks that all the eligible singles in Israel are more attractive, the food tastes better, and even the air is sweeter here? Who still cries every time they hear a child speak Hebrew. Who gets weepy just thinking about the kotel? Who looks like Maria about to sing "the hills are alive" on erev Shabbat when they're walking to shul?

Because I've been that girl, and I've seen it many times.

And then reality sets in. And you would give your right arm to visit your friends/family back "home" and a root beer or a Snapple makes you so homesick it literally tastes like longing..

And you actually miss Christmas Carols, even though they used to bug the heck out of you.

and then... there's stage 3...

When a root beer tastes like childhood memories, but it doesn't overwhelm you, and you can imagine it might be fun to take a vacation someplace other than your country of origin. And when the cheese and bread and vegetables here seem normal, and the fruits and vegetables back where you came from seem weird... and you realize that you're a tourist there, and an immigrant here, and that you're never 100% going to be Israeli, but you belong to Israel more than you belong to your old country.

Pass the falafel. I'm home.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Fibro and the Amba* Clinic

Amba is a savory condiment, based on mango, fenugreek, and turmeric. Sadly, there is no Amba Clinic. There is no Ketchup, Mustard, Hummus, or Tehina (Tahini?) clinic either.

I did recently read a book put out by a famous clinic named after another condiment.  Yes, the Mayo Clinic put out a book, and I read most of it (skimmed parts)

So here's what the book said for those of you who don't feel like spending a couple of hours.

  1. Yes, fibromyalgia is real and it hurts.
  2. It's somehow caused by either physical or emotional trauma or both, but it causes neurological changes to the brain structures, mainly causing brain receptors to be overactive
  3. There is no cure. 
  4. There isn't really any particularly good treatment
  5. Therefore the top standard of care is to: 
    1. Do CBT to convince you that you can convince yourself that it's possible to tolerate being in unthinkable pain at all times by the power of positive thinking
    2. Do Physical therapy so that even though you're in unthinkable pain at all times, you don't allow your body to weaken
    3. Do relaxation, so that you don't kill the idiots who keep telling you that this is the best that they can do for you and really there's no reason you need pain medication for your extreme pain. Deep breaths now.
I read this with the extreme skepticism of someone who's really in a lot of pain and doesn't want to continue to be in such pain. And then I went to a pain doctor here - one of the few who is authorized to prescribe cannabis in Israel, and he said "well, this is the gold standard of care..." 

According to him, pain medications and cannabis (which actually blocks the over-active pain receptors mentioned above) are off-limits to people like me. So here I go, CBT and Physical therapy. and let's see how this works. 

You can see I haven't yet started therapy to learn how to think positively about the feeling of glass shards in my joints...
I start intake on Wednesday. At some point soon, the doctor in charge is going to want me to go off of the pain medication I'm on, which terrifies me beyond belief. My pain is already beyond what I can handle more of the time than not. Take away the last life line, and I... I just don't know.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A Little Nonsense, Now and Then

It's winter. It's cold. You might need a:


Some people don't like them. That's a:

heater hater

Cannibals are attracted by the smell of cold humans. The one coming at you now is a: 

heater hater eater

But if a buddy tries to rescue you, and has to resort to violence, that would be a:

heater hater eater beater

And a grifter, seeing that your buddy is violent, thinks he isn't very smart, and tries to sell him a bridge, that person would be a 

heater hater eater beater cheater

The grifter also heads many grifting organizations, making him a:

heater hater eater beater cheater leader

And the grifter is named after Leningrad, making him :
heater hater eater beater cheater leader Peter

And you, wasting your time on this are: 

heater hater eater beater cheater leader Peter reader

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

This Time of Year, I Hear Your Voice

(When I was thirteen, a boy from my synagogue, a friend of mine, passed away from complications from hemophilia.)

This time of year, I hear your voice. It is high and sweet. It is the voice of a young boy whose voice never changed to that of a man.

I remember you, sitting next to me, praying next to me, singing liturgy I did not know, melodies whose beauty did not come from the cantor on the bima, but from my friend, singing beside me.

There must have been others our age. I know there were young children. You and I led their service, you playing cantor to my rabbi. The two of us worked in unrehearsed harmony, my knowledge coming from having watched my father, yours from years of prayer.

I remember other times with you, of course. I remember talking on the phone, laughing when your mother decided to "clean the phone" during one of our conversations. I remember dancing with you at a party for Israel's Independence day.

But mostly, I remember your voice on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, praying for forgiveness for sins you did not commit and for mercy you did not receive.

In memory of Stephen Orne

Friday, August 17, 2018

Kosher in the Azores - Self-Catering for a Family Abroad

I hope you haven't come to this post hoping to find out that there's a nice, big Chabad house in Sao Miguel. I'm sorry to disappoint. There's basically nothing kosher.

Why did we go to the Azores?
The European Juggling Convention takes place in a different European country each summer. This year was Azores! Next year is Britain, but it's during the nine days, so we'll be giving it a miss, sadly.

If you're used to European products, then you know which things are ok throughout Europe. Unless you're careful about Chalav Yisrael, the milk, cottage cheese, yogurts (the ones which don't contain grape or gelatin) are all fine, and some ice creams - there's a Portugal list, but it's pretty bare.

As far as I know, there's no bread commonly available in the Azores which is ok (if you're Portuguese and know better, feel free to comment.)


Well, first I'll tell you what our set-up was. We're a family of five with some picky eaters and some very picky eaters. We rented a really cute bungalow with a fully-equipped kitchen. We used the fridge, microwave, kettle, and stovetop. There was an oven, but we did not use it, partly because of logistics of kashering, and partly because we're on vacation and didn't want to be baking.


So we had a complication, because we flew a low-cost airline BACK to Lisbon from the Azores (we flew from Israel via Moscow, but that's another story) and decided to only pay for two suitcases for that leg of the flight. As a result, we were somewhat limited in what we could bring back with us - which obviously affected what we took.

Fortunately, I had a pot and pan that were on their way out - I'd already bought their replacements, so we took those and threw them out at the end of the trip. I also bought a collapsible pot, more because I was in love with the idea than because I needed it.

I brought along small, cheap cutting boards for milk and meat, and bought knives with covers for both (because otherwise, you end up slicing your luggage, your fingers, etc)

I don't love eating off of disposables, and while they are readily available in supermarkets, they're not cheap and come in tiny packs. For dairy, we brought our IKEA Kalas bowls, cups, and plates:

We didn't bring along the plastic silverware because it's unusable. We actually separate the colors for meat and dairy, - meat is anything that includes red - pink, purple, and orange - and dairy is the rest - yellow, blue, and green - so it took two sets to bring service for 6. We're only 5, but you always need extras. We had old ones in meh shape. A friend recommended stainless steel, but these are light and cheap, and we ended up leaving them behind, which we wouldn't have done with metal.

I bought silverware at Max Stock - by buying the pieces separately (6 forks, 6 big spoons, 6 small spoons, and 2 packs of 3 knives at 5 shekels each), I was able to get usable silverware for 25 shekels. (we'll keep it for future travel.)

Can Opener (cheap, junky one)
Peeler (Good one)

For meat, we planned to have four meat meals - 2 each of the two Shabbatot we were away. So I bought 10 hard plastic disposable plates, and we washed 5 between meals each of the two weeks. I brought a little bit of disposable silverware, and we kept the extras from the airline meal.

I bought cheap wooden spoons/spatulas so that if we didn't have room to bring them back, we would just leave them.

What I didn't bring that I should have, so I ended up paying more because in Israel I know where to buy it cheaper - sponges for washing dishes and plastic boxes to use both as a mixing bowl and for storing leftovers.

Plastic zip-loc type bags could have been helpful, We bought them locally.

I had bought two packs of sour candy that came in little plastic boxes and they got some use.

(We ate most of the candy on our flights)

Should have brought a tablecloth. I ended up using a clean sheet as a tablecloth, but I felt like it was risking leaving stains that don't belong on a sheet, which would be rude to the owners of the place we rented. I was able to find disposables, but didn't think about it until it was too late for the first Shabbat.

What Food We Brought With Us

Foodwise - we brought some of the wrong things. If I were doing it over, here's what I would bring:

Cheese - we brought 2.4 kg of Emek cheese, and ate all of it. We froze it before we traveled and put it in an insulated bag, and it was still cold when we got to Sao Miguel about 36 hours later. (we'd expected to have a fridge in Lisbon, but that didn't happen)

Meat - 4 salamis and 4 packs of kabanos. That was just about the right amount. 1 salami and 1 pack of kabanos per shabbat meal.

Tuna - One of the Israeli companies just started packing their tuna in foil bags - It's called Tuna to-go. I brought 4 packs. My son loves pasta with just tuna (in oil), so each pack made two servings of that.

Bread - We took whole wheat bread, pitas, rolls, and wraps. If I could do it over again, I would have brought just wraps - probably around 8 packs. The kids ate them with nutella, with cheese and tomato sauce, with salami, etc. They're compact and you don't have to worry about them going bad.

Mana chama (noodles) My husband brought a bunch of them. In bowls. The bowls mostly got smushed and were unusable. If I'd done the shopping, I would have bought the ones in packets instead (and put them in the plastic containers I forgot to bring). They were really useful for the days when my husband and daughter were out a lot of the day, because they were able to get hot water easily at the juggling convention, and that's a pretty quick hot meal.

Majadera - my daughter loves it, and the premade mix is really good. We only made 2 packs, but I brought 4. Oops,

Wacky Mac - I only brought the cheese pack from a box of Wacky mac. We bought pasta locally, and I added a lot of butter to stretch it to be enough for most of a lb of pasta.

Spices - I brought garlic and salt in small containers. Oregano and onion powder could have been nice, too.

Tea Bags - My husband likes a particular type of tea. It makes more sense to pack 14 tea bags than to go searching once we're there.

Cookies and Snacks - because it's a tiyul, and tiyulim need snacks. (Tiyul is the general term for trip, but also more specifically used to refer to school hiking trips, where kids spend half the time hiking, 1/8 of the time learning about the place, 1/8 of the time hearing silly stories that are tangentially related to the place, and 1/4 of the time eating snacks. That may not be a great break-up because I think there's overlap) I bought a few types of cookies. If I were a better mom, I would have baked the cookies in advance, and packed them in one of those plastic boxes... but I digress.

Grape Juice for Kiddush and havdala - 4 little bottles.

What We Bought There

The main supermarket we went to was Continente, which was well-stocked.
Milk (there was no fresh milk, only UHT milk, on Sao Miguel, but it was really good. Apparently the thing about grass-fed cows is real)
Philadelphia Cream Cheese
Eggs - but they were brown and speckled, so not candled, and we ended up not really eating them because we found too many blood spots - I managed to find one clean one and ate it - all the others went to the trash :(
Kellog's cereals (UK Kashrut Certification)
Coffee (nescafe)
Olives (in a jar)
Tomato Sauce (the kind that was just tomatoes and salt)
Soy Sauce (OU)
Potato chips (plain potato chips are ok)
Betty Crocker pancake mix (OU)
Spray vegetable oil (OU)
Iced Tea, Coke, Fanta (watch out, some of the flavors have grape juice)
Peanut butter (skippy!)
Fresh Fruit (selection was so-so. there were excellent fresh pineapples grown on the Island, but I was the only one who was willing to eat it)
Vegetables - tomatoes were ok, avocado was fine, and cucumbers were American-style, barely edible.
Lots and lots of water bottles (the water where we stayed smelled bad - we used it for cooking and even for making coffee/tea, but we didn't drink it)
Napkins, toothpaste, shampoo, stuff like that.

In theory, we could have bought frozen salmon, but the seafood section had so many "interesting" things (eels, for example) that I couldn't bring myself to look through it. There are canned tunas and sardines that can be bought there, but again, it was a lot to look through, and most of it exceptionally unappealing. I was glad we'd brought our own tuna.

There are shops called Liberty that stock American products. We mostly bought cookies and candies there (flavored Oreos, Peanut Butter Cups, Chips Ahoy) but also canned salmon and Vlasic pickles.

What We Actually Ate:
Breakfast - cereal or pancakes
Lunch - sandwiches - either cheese or nutella on bread, pita, wrap, whatever.
Dinner - Pasta and sauce with or without cheese, pasta with wacky mac sauce, pasta with tuna, pasta with cream cheese;
majadera, rice with soy sauce,
Fried onions - the onions were great, we ate some just fried and salted.

Snacks - fruit, apples with peanut butter, way way too many potato chips, cookies,

I hope that this list helps other people trying to find their own food. At the very least, I've got a packing list for next time we go away. :)

Little improvised thing I liked -  I cut up plastic water bottles to hold my sponges so they wouldn't be in direct contact with any of the kitchen surfaces.