No worms

The first time I bought flour here, I posted a photo of the bag on facebook, adding “good to know”.

On the bag was the recommendation: “sifted, no worms”

I thought it was hilarious. Although I also learned from my friends to keep flour in the fridge. Just to make sure.

But this week I got a peak of our future, by going back decennia.

It was the little bag of pistachios in the back of our kitchen cupboard. I just kept forgetting it was there.

We would keep on buying new pistachios to nibble on right away. Even our terrible two loves pistachios so we made sure to never be short on them.

The location of that ol’ bag was unpractical. Tucked away behind the peanut butter and the Tahina. When looking for snacks I just always skipped that shelf.

Until last week. I needed to create more space on this particular shelf and found the long forgotten bag. Deciding to throw the now stale batch away, I took one last look at the contents of the bag.

Let me first explain something. I have elaborated on our apartment before. On how I learnt this country is a far cry from the organized Western World as I know it. Things break. Things get shabby. Things leak. And amidst it all, one tends not to notice when things get a little shabby here and there.

Dirty floors? Sure thing with all the kids around. Dusty surfaces? The desert is not far away, and paired with the air pollution in Jerusalem things get grimy pretty fast. And apart from that, with helicopters roaring over our heads, shots in the not so far distance, who cares about the upkeep of the house.

In short, I hadn’t really noticed a lot of extra dirt in that cupboard.

With the colder weather and thanks to Ze’ev’s poison I haven’t seen a roach in ages. I am slowly relaxing about the whole tiny animals situation here.

Until I lifted the bag of long forgotten pistachios. The first thing I noticed was that the contents had turned in to pistachio shells and… something that looked like saw dust.

And then it became clear: the insides of the bag moved. My pistachios had become alive.

Quite literary, actually. The bag was swarming with maggots. Tiny cream colored new friends with darker heads, or tails for that matter. Never having enjoyed fishing I haven’t seen that many maggots before.

A closer look learned the whole cupboard was infested. Lots of pets for my animal loving middle child who radically changed her mind about becoming a vet.

My reaction was an interesting combination of disgust and some sort of “homeschooling teaching opportunity interest”. Not to mention a bout of obsessive compulsive cleaning afterwards.

The day passed. A last lone little one crawled up the tiles in the kitchen. My disgust had now almost vanished. It was ironic, really.

Here I was in my vegetarian kitchen, killing living creatures. But also in touch with tomorrow. Maggots are wonderful sources of protein. Possibly one of the more important sources of protein of the future.

I am regretting not having been courageous enough to fry our home grown livestock. They might have been quite a treat: Pistachio fed Maggots.

They had also snacked on various other foods they had found in that cupboard. And as grossed out as the kids were, they couldn’t part from their beloved sprinkles.  So now we check the sandwich for movement before eating.

Not long before moving back home again, we start feeling like seasoned Middle East travellers.

Pistachios, anyone?





Sustainability is a luxury.

My heart is green. Our house in the Netherlands is covered with solar panels to create electricity and hot water. We own wind shares in two different wind mills. Back home, we would separate garbage in five different trash cans. Buy in bulk to reduce waste. Drive a car on green gas. Use cloth in stead of paper kitchen towels.

Until my husband left for Israel. And I was in charge of our five little ones and everything else. I was tired. I was sad. I was not green. Not green at all.

In Jerusalem, waste is everywhere. The disposables industry flourishes by the mitzvah not to work on Shabbat and thus not to do dishes. Plastic plates and cutlery are everywhere. I feel like a true green hero for throwing my trash in a trash can in stead of on the ground somewhere. I even gather littered items wherever I go, to throw them in a container somewhere.

But energy to really make the difference is lacking me. I find it extremely hard to keep up with sustainability when the world seems to be crumbling down. When people fight each other to death and my children and I are seeking shelter in our bathroom against incoming rockets.

And so, I needed to find some new inspiration.

Clil was the answer. This little gem has it all when one is in serious need of some green inspiration. When our hearts and souls need some refuge from news about boys, little older than our own oldest son, getting killed while we do not understand for what.

In Clil, people live off the electricity grid. There’s a cafe, there’s a slow pace, there’s sustainability and there’s Among Carob and Olives.

We stayed at a Yurt. However, the kids would have loved to sleep in the ecological pool. We picked Verveine, olive leaves, lavender and carob to make tea. We picked Pomegranates to suck the bittersweet juices out of. We had breakfast and then breakfast again at the Hippie Cafe Clil. We bought sourdough bread at the local bakery.

And for a moment we had peace. We understood the bangs of fireworks for what it was. We did not fear a fast motor cycle in the distance was actually the start of a rocket alarm.

We ate in the vegetarian restaurant and drank the locally brewed Malka Beer that we had tasted in Jerusalem. We slept in a tent and hardly showered. And we were happier than we had been in a long, long time.

And green.

Sustainability is a luxury. And in Clil, it is heaven, too.

Of dead roaches and friendly spiders

Friday morning Ze’ev came to the rescue. I had never met Ze’ev before, nor his boss Amir, but apparently Ze’ev’s English was better than Amir’s and so he was sent to us.

Ze’ev carried a yellow tank on his back and a spout in his hand. This was obviously a man of action and not many words. Ze’ev asked me where the closest manhole was. We have two right outside. One, a mere ten centimeters from our kitchen door.

Who, I ask you, who designs a house in a warm country with a fragile concrete manhole cover ten centimeters from a kitchen door? It must be someone who adores roaches and prefers them well fed.

In a large family it is complicated to store away all fruits and vegetables every day. Specially when vegetable delivery comes from a CSA, in large quantities, once a week. Uncovered food combined with a manhole stinking it’s way right in to our kitchen spells trouble. And I got a little, let’s say, antsy from all those little friends crawling over my counter tops at night. Hiding in the coffee maker. Crawling through my oldest daughter’s hair at night.

So here came Ze’ev with his tank and his spray. Spraying his way through our manholes, our sinks, our kitchen cabinets that we had emptied so meticulously the night before. Unprotected, but warning us to stay away for a couple of hours.

The kids and I obliged and fled the house. What better destination than the Jerusalem Zoo? In this zoo, I kid you not, there’s a cockroach display. Behind glass, thank Goodness.

For extra safety, we had booked a weekend in a yurt in the Northern part of the country. When we came home for five minutes to pick up our bag, there were dieing cockroaches everywhere. Big ones, small ones, all out in the open. It was… a special sight.

We left on our weekend in heaven in the North. And we came back. In the car on the way back a spider crawled on my leg. It tickled and I stroked the little guy off my leg. Gentle thoughts filled my mind. Feeling for this spider so far away from home: it must have been on one of the pomegranates we had picked from a tree today. Poor little fellow.

There’s apparently a world between roaches on my counter and a spider from our weekend getaway. I, for one, should not distinguish between the two. But I do.

Does it make me understand people who think some people are just worth less than others? Not at all. On our way home, I checked every little town we passed. Googling it on my phone. And it’s still a shocker when I read comments on Haaretz with people hating each other’s guts without knowing one or the other.

Spider? Cockroach?

Religion? People?

I guess you can make it leave. But you can not take it away.