Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Bik'a, again

Well, once again, I drove down the Bik'a road back to Jerusalem. Only this time I began the drive at 9:30pm, so it was not nearly the beautiful drive that it usually is. There were a million stars out, but it was hard to appreciate them going 100 kilometers an hour. Because it was Saturday night, there was also a fair amount of traffic.

I did have company in the car, which was nice, since we didn't get back until about midnight. Jerusalem is really, really busy on a Saturday night. The most noticeable thing, it smells like pastry everywhere. The bakeries are all starting to bake for the week, and in the three neighborhoods I stopped in (dropping people off and then parking at my apartment), it always smelled like pastry. Which is not bad....

Shabbat was quiet. We were at the King Solomon, which is way on top of the hill in Tiberius. It's also the hotel our students were in last summer when the rockets started raining on Tiberius, so we all (staff) were subconciously relieved to have a quiet Shabbat.

On Friday afternoon, I brought one of our staff people and a sick student down to town for lunch. They ate green olive pizza (ick) and I had my first falafel of the season. I have to say, it was really, really good. It was also my first opportunity to have my favorite sauce - amba. I still don't know exactly what it is, but in my opinion, it tastes like a curried mustard. Someone told me it has mango in it, but I dont' see how that's possible.

And on the down side, I'm out of Pepsi Max again. A Big Gulp would be good right about now. I'm fairly certain that the first person to open up a proper 7-11 would do really, really well here....


baked biscuit's oven said...

OK, I checked out amba and this is what Wikipedia had to say:
Amba (Hebrew: עמבה, Arabic: عمبه) is a spicy, brownish-yellow mango pickle commonly eaten in Iraq. It is also popular in India, where it is widely manufactured and bottled for the world market. However, Indian cuisine, particularly that which is eaten in North America, tends to favor other mango pickles, particularly achar. The main differences between amba and achar are that amba has large pieces of mango rather than small cubes and that it uses more vinegar and no oil, and the pickle for the amba tends to be more dense. Other than that, the two types of pickles are about the same. The ingredients in amba typically include mangoes, vinegar, salt, mustard, turmeric, and chili. Another important ingredient in amba is fenugreek, which gives it a distinct flavour and scent. It is the fenugreek in the amba which alters body odour following sufficient consumption. It is commonly eaten on its own, particularly by Iraqis, and is sometimes used, particularly in Israel, as a sandwich topping.

Amba enjoys much popularity in Israel, to where it was brought by Iraqi Jews. The food item was very popular among Iraqi jews and a popular notion in Israel, particularly in the 50s and 60s when they first arrived, was that Iraqis cannot live without amba in the morning. However, mangos and some of the seasonings were very expensive, so stores that sold amba tended to dilute it with a lot of water. Amba is often used to dress sabikh and is sometimes available wherever falafel and shawarma are sold.

Yes, I'm a complete dork.

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