I can’t believe I went a day and a half without food in Jerusalem without realizing that there was a 24/7 restaurant right across the street from my hotel. And it was open on Saturday and Sunday—the two days when everything else was closed for Rosh Hashanah. Well, I learned about it yesterday in time to go to the cafe (called Zuni) for a big honking breakfast of eggs, toast, lox, cheese, salad, olives, and coffee. Man, was it good to have food!
Below: the hours I missed when it was open (the place is down an alley and hard to find):
Open on Rosh Hashanah!
The streets were so empty yesterday that they did a film shoot on the tram tracks (public transportation is suspended during shabbos and holidays).
Nearby, Jews were blowing the shofar, or ram’s horn, traditionally signaling the holiday. From Wikipedia:
The blowing of the shofar (Hebrew: תקיעת שופר, Hebrew pronunciation: [t(e)kiˈ(ʔ)at ʃoˈfaʁ]) is a ritual performed by Jews on Rosh Hashanah. The shofar is a musical horn, typically made of a ram’s horn. Jewish law requires that the shofar be blown 30 times on each day of Rosh Hashanah, and by custom it is blown 100 or 101 times on each day.
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest unto you, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of horns, a holy convocation.
Here’s a rabbi showing how it’s done:
Below: a sign for the holidays (if you read Hebrew, please translate).
BTW, there’s a famous off-color Jewish joke about the shofar that I’ll put below the fold to preserve the family-oriented nature of this site.
This morning I went to the Mahane Yehuda Market, only a half-hour walk from my hotel and near the ultra-Orthodox quarter. It’s well known, and here’s part of the Wikipedia entry:
Mahane Yehuda Market (Hebrew: שוק מחנה יהודה, romanized: Shuk Mahane Yehuda), often referred to as “The Shuk” (Hebrew: השוק, romanized: HaShuq, lit.‘The Market’), is a marketplace (originally open-air, but now partially covered) in Jerusalem. Popular with locals and tourists alike, the market’s more than 250 vendors sell fresh fruits and vegetables; baked goods; fish, meat and cheeses; nuts, seeds, and spices; wines and liquors; clothing and shoes; and housewares, textiles, and Judaica.
In and around the market are falafel, shawarma, kibbeh, kebab, shashlik, kanafeh, baklava, halva, zalabiya and Jerusalem mixed grill stands, juice bars, cafes, and restaurants. The color and bustle of the marketplace is accentuated by vendors who call out their prices to passersby. On Thursdays and Fridays, the marketplace is filled with shoppers stocking up for Shabbat, until the Friday afternoon sounding of the bugle that signifies the market will close for the Sabbath. In recent years, “the shuk” has emerged as another Jerusalemic nightlife center, with restaurants, bars and live music.
I went at opening time to take photos and avoid the crowds, and it was a remarkable place selling anything you’d want to eat. And there were very few tourists: mostly women and Orthodox Jews buying provisions. Here are two photos of the market, which consists of two long covered and parallel east-west streets connected by north-south alleys, also full of food stalls.
One of the two long streets:
One of the N/S alleys:
The goods included Turkish delight (loukoum, one of my favorites),
. . . all kinds of candy (Israeli kids must really love their sweets, as there are dozens of candy stalls,
and luscious-looking breads.
Here’s a friendly guy patting out fresh pita:
On offer: fantastic fruits and veg (every item of which is better in Israel than in the U.S). The tomatoes here are ripe and sweet, and the melons infinitely better than those you can get in the States. (American store tomatoes suck.)
I don’t know what the fruit in he middle is, but it seems to be a type of wrinkly pear.
Bored produce vendor:
Nuts and dried fruits, very popular:
An old guy with a drink and a smoke:
Freshly baked pastries:
All sorts of olives, and I love them all:
I’m not sure what these things are, but I was given one to taste (the type at front left is a delicious mixture of lemon and mint). They are like flavored jelly candies but are invariably sold alongside various herbal teas (also shown):
One thing you quickly discover here is that both Jews and Arabs love their coffee, are willing to pay for the good stuff. It’s often served in glasses. Very often they drink a form of Turkish coffee: grounds boiled with water (sugar optional) and then allowed to settle before drinking. This form of coffee is found throughout the Middle East, and is also the coffee most common in Greece (in Greece I ask for it “glyki vrasto”, or “sweet and well boiled). The boiled coffee is always prepared on the spot.
Here are some of the beans on sale at the market:
A market kitty who, I’m told, “belongs” to a coffee shop. Note the clipped ear, indicating neutering:
I was hungry and tempted by everything, but knew that after the market I was going back to have a big hummus lunch at Ben-Sira’s, so couldn’t eat on the spot. But I was on the prowl for one thing: halva: the sesame version. It’s one of my favorite sweets and comes in a variety of flavors
There are several halva shops in the market, but I was told that the best was called “Halva Kingdom”. There’s no English on the sign, and you must find it by looking for halva on sale and a crown on the sign. Eventually I found it!
Look at all that halva!
A fancy one. Prices run from 99 to 200 shekels per kilo (about 3.7 shekels to the dollar):
Artificially sweetened halva on the right; the real stuff on the left. Needless to say, I was a Leftist. I bought three types, about a kilo in total (plain, pistachio and walnut).
When I got home I discovered that the “Halva Kingdom” bag did have English on it, has branches in Tel Aviv, and that the outfit is two years older than I am.
Walking back with my sweet treasure, I passed my favorite police station again—the one with the lions. As I noted in an earlier post, this is where the British Consul used to live.
And one of the lions (he needs dental work):
Another mini-lion. My heart breaks for this sweet kitten, as it looks hungry but won’t let me get near. It lives near my hotel, and perhaps I’ll buy a box of cat food (I didn’t see any cat food in the market):
A synagogue (or so I think) bearing lions of Judah. Translations welcome.
Hummus at last, and at my favorite place in Jerusalem, Ben-Sira. Here’s a 50-shekel lunch with hummus, veg, falafel, and fresh pita, along with a large glass of lemonade. (The lemonade, freshly squeezed, was not overly sweet.)
Close-up of hummus, topped with a few chickpeas:
Full at last! Full at last! Thank god almighty I’m full at last!
Click “read more” to see the shofar joke:
Two men were passing a synagogue on Rosh Hashanah when they heard a loud noise the sounded like a horn.“What the heck was that?”“Oh, the Jews are blowing the shofar on their new year.”“Wow! They really know how to treat their help!”