Sunday, November 16, 2014

Israel 2014 Day 11: Akko Hummus and Moshav Cheese

Israel 2014 Day 11: Akko Hummus and Moshav Cheese

Our last full day in Israel for this trip started, as they all did, with a glorious breakfast.

Breakfast in Rosh Pina
The pool in daylight

Our plan was to meet Ilanit and Nir in Akko but they weren't feeling super well, we decided to go anyway though, in search of epic hummus. Since we didn't have as much of a schedule as originally planned, we took the morning slowly in Rosh Pina and had a nice long breakfast upstairs at the B&B. We had cheese, dips, an omelet, a cappuccino, all excellent! The other couple staying there were from Oakland, California, so we had lots to talk about. We checked out after a nice breakfast and I wrote my journal at the pool cabana (man, a lot of cabanas on this trip so far!) We collected our stuff and headed out to Akko ("Acre").

Chillin' in Akko with some Pomegranate "Spring" juice
We walked along the shore to the Old City. Again the weather was quite hot so we stayed hydrated with some "Spring" Pomegranate juice. We continued walking along to the Akko old city/Arab village. It was super cool to walk in there, there was both a Mosque AND a Synagogue in there! It was nice to see a small village where people of different faiths lived in harmony together.

Cute kitten
Into the Arab village in Akko to go seek out epic hummus
Awesome-looking Mosque in Akko
Alleyways leading to epic hummus
We were walking in this area, seeking out Said (Say'eed) Hummus -- a shop that was, according to several websites online, the #2 Hummus in the country (after our previously-visited Abu Hassan hummus in Old Jaffa)! It was SUPER cheap and very tasty. It was only ₪7 for a tub of hummus (about $1.80) and only ₪2 ($0.50) for 4 epic pitas, which were still warm. It was very awesome. Still in my mind nothing can ever be as good as Abu Hassan's hummus, but this one was also just incredible. And it was truly unbelievable how little it costs compared to how much you are charged for Hummus at home, and how much better the quality is and more authentic the whole experience is. Super fun.

Here we are at Hummus Said, rated one of the best Hummus shops in Israel!
Wow, that Hummus smells amazing
From here we walked back to the car, via some pastry shop and to get some more liquids. From there we drove south to meet Michal's brother and sister-in-law at a Moshav, a small village which had been there since 1887! They were cheese makers, and had a cool tent atmosphere there. Lots of cats were running around, so obviously that made me super happy. We sat down at a table beside some roosters and all the cats and ordered a plate of 18 different cheeses!! It was all awesome and they were all freshly made there.

Meeting Michal's brother and sister-in-law at a Moshav
Massive assorted cheese plate!
Cats running around, so I was happy
A cat at the cash register
The first one was very "goaty", followed by lots of other interesting cheeses -- all very different and unique in their own way. We also ordered Labaneh and it was INSANELY AWESOME. I have never tried it like this, and it came with incredible olive oil, zaatar, and some other interesting and amazing spices on it. It was the BEST. We dipped some fresh laffas in there and it was pretty darn life-changing. Michal's brother and I crushed some olives too, and we also had fresh apple juice and lemonade. We ate tons of cheese, dolmas filled with goat cheese, and eventually ordered another plate of Labaneh before heading back to Ra'nannah.

OMG this labane
Then we ordered another one
Awesome little hut where we ate all the cheese ever
Great vibe here
Old scale
Cheese or Olives to-go if you wanted
Hanging out with a cow
We arrived back and went straight to Orit's for dinner and to have a nice chat. It was great, we had lots of time to get to know each other better and to talk about interesting cultural differences. I always love having that opportunity when in another country, to talk to some local people about their culture and to share my own... I find that is one of the best ways to learn about people, by seeing how they live, thinking about it, talking, and eventually comparing their life experiences with your own. It's always very enlightening and I've enjoyed doing this sort of thing wherever in the world I go.

Of course Orit was very insightful and I learned a lot. We talked a lot about the Israeli sense of community, and how if your car tire went flat on a road, people would actually pull over to help you -- very different than my experience back home, where more commonly there is a "it's not my problem" mentality. She talked about how the communication is more direct, and when in less-direct countries it can be very confusing. She used an example, if in the US people might say, "Your clothes look very comfortable" if they think you are dressed too casually for an event. In Israel someone might be a bit more direct, "You are dressed too casually." :) Some of her friends who went to school in the US were at first quite confused by the indirect manner of speech, and didn't always understand what people meant because phrases were wrapped in pleasantries or fake-positivity which can be very subtle and especially confusing if English is not your first language. And if USA is confusing, imagine Canada or Britain, where language can be even further distanced with layers of subtlety and indirection.

We talked about Israeli vs. American vs. Canadian ideals, immigration, racism, building a country's culture, the rich and poor gap, problems caused by a shrinking middle class, the dream of home ownership, a neighbourly culture of "we'll work it out together" vs. "not my problem"... we may have covered about 50 different topics in the span of an hour or so!! It was wonderful to chat, and as I mention, quite enlightening. I love talking about these kinds of things with someone who is open to discuss these things. In a non-judgmental atmosphere, you can really learn fascinating things about another culture this way.

After our super engaging conversation, we had dinner and I mailed some postcards home. We had pizza and "sticks", and chatted more with all the kids. It was super fun. We said our goodbyes after dinner and headed to go fill up the car with "Delek" (Gas). This was super complicated, as you needed some sort of Israeli driver's license or something like that. It was confusing. So we drove to another gas station and the dude there was super helpful. As Orit had suggested, he was very much in the "let me help you out" mentality, and it was so funny. He was so excited and happy to help us, and excited that we were travelers. He just about gave me a hug!! It was hilarious, I called him my "gas bro".

Back we went to the house to pack and clean up, and prepare to head home the next morning. Our wonderful hosts said we should leave plenty of space for gifts... uh oh!!!! They were INCREDIBLE. Michal's uncle and aunt presented us with many super thoughtful and kind gifts: tea, a salad chopper so we could continue to make Israeli salad at home, Organic Tahini for making Tahina sauce, and even some Tea infuser mugs!! This was wild, as the whole week from these lovely people was a true gift, and this extra generosity was totally unexpected and so kind. They had given us a home for the week, and then picked us up such perfectly-chosen gifts. Wow. :)

Of course it was time for more eating! We had some ice cream, and reminisced about the trip. What a great family. We said our goodbyes, and thank yous, many many times.

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