with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

A Trip for Meat

Maureen and I headed up north to get meat yesterday. We’ve been planning and postponing this for weeks, so it was with a great deal of relief when I found my car keys and headed to her place early Tuesday morning. This was really going to happen. Whew!

When I had gotten into the car, the skies opened up and Tel Aviv was completely drenched. Maureen waited in the lobby for me to arrive, then raced between the huge drops to jump in the car, scattering water everywhere. But I loved it. I hoped the rain would last through the day, but by afternoon it was warm and muggy again. We’re only a couple days away from December and people are still wearing sunglasses, sun lotion, and swimming in the sea. We headed north through the beginning of the morning rush hour, but quickly left it behind as we passed Netanya.

We chattered away about things, as we do, ignoring much of the lack of scenery along the way. Highway 2 is a straight run from Tel Aviv to Haifa, and there is little to see along the flat path until you almost reach Haifa and the Carmel Mountains drift slowly up into view along the east. We turned on Highway 70 and cut through a pass in the mountains towards Tiberias. The road was so clear of traffic, we arrived way ahead of schedule, so we doubled back and decided to drive up into the mountains to visit a favorite shopping village, Daliyet al Carmel, a Druze town.

Escaping persecution in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world, the Druze fled to what is now Israel hundreds of years ago, and they continue to exist in relative peace, working with whoever is in charge of the country so they can continue to live in peace. The Druze, like many Beduion, serve in the Israeli army and do their part to participate, while continuing to stay separate. There is much mysterious and mystical about their life and culture, especially about their religion, being part Christian, part who knows, but they are a warm and friendly people, at least the ones I’ve met in the shops, and as usual, Maureen and I were greeted with great excitement. The lack of tourists, the major source of income, is killing this area, so we were the star attraction. Within a few minutes in the second store we explored I had become the salesman’s sister and Maureen had become a cousin. Now why I was the sister and she the cousin, it’s a mystery that will never be solved, but when it got to the end of the bargaining, she had been upgraded to sister. I guess they saw money to burn in my hands but not hers, until it was time to deal. Playing the “relatives”, she and I played around negotiating over a large brass plate/coffee table with legs, and a few other odds and ends. I wanted to buy backgammon sets for the kids back home, but I didn’t want to spend much, settling for the cheaper handmade models than the glorious custom built things. So we wheeled and dealed and played the family members until we got the prices we wanted. We could have gone further, as with any deal, but I already felt confident about what I was spending, and I’d shopped there before, so I settled not long into the bidding. The morning was still cool and damp, so I didn’t want to hang around as Maureen and I were both feeling punky from our various recent illnesses.

While paying for the table and odds and ends, a familiar looking man came in and begged us to follow him to his shop to see the weaving of his daughter. Since we had lots of time, and I knew that I had met him before, we followed and ended up in the shop where Brent and I had bought all our Druze glass dishes. I love them. They are hand painted in a translucent pastel drip and then fired again at high temperatures, making the glassware very sturdy while being thin and delicate looking. I just love their rustic imperfections, and I reminded him of my previous visits. “Ah, I remember you brought your father from America here!” I had indeed, along with my mother and my in-laws on separate trips. It is nice to be remembered. I fell in love with some of the fabric weaving, a thin table cloth material in the most lovely gold and browns with square designs, one inside the other and again, repeated across the surface with a wide band of thick gold embroidery along the edge. I also fell in love with a gorgeous blue and pink one with roses for my mother…ah, but I just told. Anyway, a perfect present for her for Christmas. I felt saved. I had the backgammon sets and another treasure for my mother. My shopping is almost done for the year. Time to go home and pack it all up for mailing to the states.

Maureen was good and only walked out of Daliyet with legs for one of her copper plates back home and a little knickknack, but I had filled the car with too many things. We do make a good bargaining team, though. I like that part. We crawled into the car – let me correct that – we pried ourselves into the car and headed back down to the butcher.

We were still early, so we drove up to a small park I know and walked around it, admiring the new blooming crocus and other “spring” like flowers peaking out after the first rains of the season. Strange to see spring flowers at the beginning of winter. Finally it was time to head to the butcher and to lunch.

We had a great lunch of lamb steaks and spent way too long getting all our meats figured out. I am still learning about what part is what and what to do which what part I get, but Danny, our butcher guide, was of great help. When he asked me how thick I wanted a fillet cut, I squirmed and shuffled, hoping Maureen would help me, but she was distracted with something else. So I just grinned and told him to cut them the way he would if he was fixing it for himself. He was thrilled, sighed a grin of pleasure and started hacking. I eat so little red meat nowadays, I am worried about how to fix it all, but the list is from Brent and he will be thrilled with it all. Especially because I was able to get some American-style T-bone steaks, something he has never had since we arrived in Israel. Just can’t find them in the stores. I’ve asked and they don’t know what it is. But Danny did and he cut them perfectly, according to Brent.
Stocked up, we headed back towards Tel Aviv, listening to Bill Cosby on tape and having a good laugh, full of good food and tired out. Maureen made me stop at Ikea, even though we were both exhausted, and lucky for us we did and discovered a perfect filing cabinet for Ruth marked down almost 50% in the clearance section. I arranged to have it delivered to Ruth the next day and called and told her it was on her way. She didn’t know what it was that was coming, but if I had done it, she was happy. That’s just the kind of friendship we have.

I picked up a couple of odds and ends and then we headed back home through the afternoon rush hour. I dropped Maureen off and then picked up Ruth and we went to Office Depot to get her some filing folders, then I took her home and Brent and I dragged all that meat up the four flights of stairs to home. Whew. I’m still exhausted. It was a full day but great fun.

Tel Aviv, Israel

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