Those shiny little trails, the thin veneer proving you were here, are no more. Not because I’ve cleaned them off the walls, but because we’ve moved to a new, so far slug free, apartment. Something else is gone too. As I walk around Beer Sheva, things don’t have that “I’m new in town” look anymore. The novelty of a new place, how we see the world as tourists, is fading away and the city is becoming part of my routine.
Fortunately Harvey goes great with our new place.
One of my colleagues shared with me an anecdote about the four reasons why people like Israel, all food related:
1) The bread – It’s great here. Not the best in Beer Sheva, but still… a typical loaf here is better than the average american loaf. Also, all different kinds of flatbreads, challah, I could go on.
2) Yogurt – it’s so good! So many different percentages of fat, for whatever you could want to use it for. Plus, there’s labneh, which is kind of a yogurt-cheese and basically the best thing ever. We’ve eaten so much yogurt at this point it’s disgusting and we’ve only been here for a tenth of my postdoc.
3) Hummus/tahini – I’m going to drop a bomb, are you ready? All of the hummus here is delicious. I can’t find bad hummus. In Jordan – where I’ve also eaten incredible hummus – I’ve also had the worst (it came in a little box like for kids juice). This doesn’t even make sense to my American economic sensibilities. Somewhere there should be cheap, poorly made hummus. It’s a defining characteristic of global capitalism, the Newton’s third law of our western economic system: whatever is made that is good, is made as shit in equal or greater quantities. But not hummus. Now, the tahini, pronounced taCHina, in hebrew, with extra CH (see here for pronunciation guide), is unlike anything I’ve ever found in stores in the US. That organic Arrowhead Mills crap I was buying, and every other shitty brand that I tried, they all pale in profound comparison to the rich, velvety, nuttiness of Israeli tahini.
4) The fourth reason is: no one remembers. Why is this? Who knows… \_(0.o)_/ It was funny during the story, but the bigger message is somewhat lost on me. Perhaps it signifies a stereotypical Israeli approach to certain things in life. Something akin to saying “whatever” and moving on… Our recent experience with the local mops illustrates this well. Mop is maybe a bit misleading; squeegee would be a more apt term.
Knowing not how to use this device, I googled “How to use an Israeli mop.” It turns out I’m not the only anglo in this country perplexed by the squeegee galavanting as a mop around here. My search returned many, many results, entire blog posts, and video tutorials on the magav, as it’s called in Hebrew. My favorite magev blog entry captures the aforementioned attitude nicely, part of which is quoted below, and slightly edited for length.
What [the magev is] really for is to spend ten minutes cursing and getting increasingly frustrated while trying to attach a rag Israelis call a smartut to the squeegee part. Then, you shlosh the thing back and forth across your floor in a parody of “mopping” and watch the rag fall off the squeegee a million times. The North American brain will logically try to solve this problem: Did I not tie it correctly? Is the rag meant to be shoved in between the squeegee blades? Maybe there’s supposed to be a hole in the middle of the rag so you can slide it down the stick and it stays around the squeegee that way? Pointless questions really, when you realize this is just an example of Israelis’ take-it-or-leave-it approach to logic. Ask any of them how the rag is supposed to stay on and they’ll tell you, Oh, well, it really doesn’t stay on…you have to just keep picking it up after a little while and re-tying it again. Trying to explain how there are newer and easier ways to clean floors falls on deaf ears. They’ll immediately defend the magav thing and say, Oh, well, but nothing cleans as well as this. It is the best way to clean a floor. I would never use anything else but this. Why don’t you like it?
I’ve gotten pretty good with the squeegee, but I miss my Swiffer wet jet.