Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Spice of Life in Tel Aviv - Marta Burden

Spice of Life in Tel Aviv

Five sheck-el. Five sheck-el. His voice booms over the din. Hebrew mixes with English, Farsi with French. Mizrachi music weaves in and out of conversations. “What did you say?” You lean in closer to your companion, mouth to ear.

Wednesday evening at the HaCarmel shuk in Tel Aviv. It’s a crush of humanity––not for the faint of heart. Permanently planted on HaCarmel Street at the junction of Allenby, King George, and Sheinkin Streets, this market fills the needs of shoppers as well as the lonely heart wanting more than four drab walls of an apartment.

Stalls of fresh, vibrant fruit and vegetables of every color––large and plump displayed in inviting sections beckon. “Come, taste, touch.” You’re pulled along by the crowd deeper in. Pungent spices in buckets fill a metal table and offer a fusion of color and aroma. Next door, glossy olives and pickles compete for the senses, and next to that––fresh local and European cheeses. Dried fruits, fresh flowers, teas, coffee, and honey, a feast for eyes and tongue. Then you peek down a side street and another odor hangs in the air. You’ve found the meat and fish. Plastic tables are filled with ice and the catch of the day. A small cubicle inside a concrete building holds a refrigerated case filled with chicken and slabs of beef and lamb. An old fashioned butcher, if you will. You go around the corner, down another alley, past more meat markets and back into the stream of bodies on the main thoroughfare. Tucked between the cubicles of clothes, school supplies, tchotchkes with little value, Shabbat candles, challah covers, shoes and cooking supplies, reside fresh fruit juice stands and shawarma shops. The pop and sizzle of meat on a flat iron grill beckons you to stop, point to the salad and sauces you want to fill the thick soft flatbread sandwich filled with hot shaved lamb and turkey. No respectable shawarma walks away without a sizeable topping of thick-cut steak fries to finish the deal. With a wrap of white paper to hold the meal in place, you’re on your way further up and further in, to look for the best price, the freshest produce, the newest music.

Skimpy shorts and tank tops pass by long black skirts and wigs. Tourists mingle with long time residents. Babies in strollers to wrinkled Babushkas - everyone’s there.

This is the spice of life in Tel Aviv.

Drawing from her many visits to Israel, Marta seeks to bridge the gap between the Christian and Jewish world.
You can visit Marta at: verbalismbuffet.blogspot.com
Or on Twitter: @MartaBurden

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