On the day of arrival the first thing we visited was Mahane Yehuda Market, the main food market in Jerusalem and thus the best place to taste Jerusalem food. It was actually surprising to find “the market”, and not many local markets, which I somehow was expecting. But it was good to have it all there in one place.
So, on the day of arrival we walked to the market, through the market and home from the market – and got an impression that we arrived to some country far far East: the cars were honking, the sellers shouting, and the food on the stalls looked very very tempting, but encoded with some tags of information in Hebrew. To run a bit ahead into the story, this was the only time we felt it was so oriental.
Now, one thing you should know about me: I am a coward. If you are one as well, you know how complicated it can make your life. I am afraid of many things, one of them being performing in an unknown situation – as simple as buying stuff at a new exotic market.
But this time we were quite successful and managed to get:
bananas (LOCAL BANANAS! Coming from the country when it is still snowing as I am writing this on 24 April it’s unbelievably awesome)
and a great falafel sandwich from a seller who gave us a proper performance juggling the falafel and pickles as he threw them into the sandwich.
And we should have bought triple amount of bananas and double amounts of all other things, because 1. they were super tasty 2. the Sabbath came suddenly the next day, and we clearly underestimated the scope of Sabbath in Jerusalem. Even McDonald’s is closed! Ok, it wasn’t that bad. The city guide written by my friend told us that there are places to eat also on Sabbath. And then even better – she and her husband took us to Cafe Bezalel for coffee and shakshuka.
Same story again: the shakshuka, coffee, brownies and the rest were great, but our budget did not include a lot of eating out, therefore we decided to take another trip to the Mahane Yehuda market and stick to picnics.
This time our friend and host took us there himself, and it made all the difference! He knew all the hidden places where to buy what: the best tasting oranges, cheaper bananas, freshest pitas and many more. He navigated us through a complex (at least for me) procedure of buying dates – there are several types, you should taste them before buying, and you can’t buy “very little”, as I wanted in the beginning.
And the best – he took us to a little stall to buy spices – zatar and Jerusalem spice mix. The seller took small bags, put them on the scale and put the spices in them using a little shovel. And every time he did it, the amount was almost exactly 100 g +- 2 g, no more, no less. After our impressed “oohs” and “awwws” he explained that he has been doing this for 60 years now, since he was a little boy and helped his grandfather in his spice shop in the same place.
Anyway, after this market visit our shopping looked like this:
So, next time plan:
More picnics, more market, more coffee and more falafel sandwiches. And I will take Mark a sandwich for himself, because he ends up eating half of mine anyway.