Israeli culture can be a shock to any visiting foreigner, but for a Southerner bred on hospitality it’s a bit like having the wind knocked out of you. Once you find your bearings though, you learn to see the beauty in the hard edges. Sometimes.
There are so many conflicting feelings and notions about this small, brazen region that mirror my own. I thank God that I’m back in Texas, but I’m also grateful for the lessons I learned there. I love that I learned how to embrace simplicity in food, in relationships, and in life. I love that I learned to be brave and how to be a better friend. And while there were many negative things that made me absolutely crazy, I try to remember Israel by its tea.
I loved nothing more than to finish a meal with hot tea stuffed with fresh verbena, lemongrass, and mint. When the aromatic steam washed over me, the yelling, shoving, and cynicism would melt away, leaving in its place a reassuring wholeness and freshness. I hope to pass that attribute on to my daughter-simplicity bursting with flavor.
Here are a few of the more humorous things I learned while living in Tel Aviv:
- Humus is a main dish, not a side dish. A bowl, humus, and a pita, that’s it. Who knew?
- When waiting in line, be prepared to call out the ten or more people who will inevitably cut in front of you. If you don’t speak up, you’ll never make it to the front of the line.
- Yelling is an art form, practiced by people of all ages.
- When a police officer asks you to step out of your vehicle, they’re not going to arrest you. They just want to chat.
- Any ailment or ache can be blamed on sleeping with the air conditioning on.
- Even if it’s a hundred degrees out,when dining, outdoor seating is the preferable choice.
- When parallel parking it’s perfectly okay to hit the bumpers of the cars in front and in back of you.
- Your children do not belong to you. They are a part of The Nation. That’s why anyone and everyone can tell you what you should and should not be doing with them.