Friday, July 23, 2010

Swirling Thoughts #155 – beytzim, quality control, holey foil, and how to get money when the money changing store is under construction (hint: go in)

In America when you buy Tropicana Orange Juice they have some secret way of making it taste exactly the same 365 days of the year. In Israel, if you are lucky enough to stumble upon fresh orange juice, you will notice the taste of the juice changing as the quality of the local orange crop changes. Egg yolks also vary with the season. They are almost white in the summer, absolutely orange in the winter.

Speaking of eggs…
When you say eggs in English you pretty much picture eggs. In Hebrew, beytzim is the word for eggs. Plus.

Israeli breakfast staple
How would you like your beytzim?

They sent my daughter home for lice but she only had two beytzim!

Jump over the ball game
I am the best at beytzim in my class!

Part of the male anatomy
Az di bubbe volt gehat beytzim, volt zi geven mayn zeyde. (It sounds so much nicer in Yiddish – where it probably came from).

When we first arrived I noticed quality control in packaged goods was not a high priority. I’m not saying you buy peanut butter and open it up to find mayonnaise but if a bag of chips claims to have a prize inside, it could well have 4 prizes and another bag could have zero. Today I opened up an 18 pack of eggs in the makolet and found half of them were brown and half white (all of them surprisingly clean). Then I opened another – 17 white and one brown. Hmmm. A beytzim puzzle.

We took a trip back to ShefaShuk last week – our first since our official moadone cards arrived in the mail. Smiling ear to ear (and knowing the answer), the cashier asked, ‘Yesh Moadone?’ To which we proudly responded, ‘Yesh!’ And so she began to ring. Until the Diamond Aluminum Foil crossed the scan.

Might I insert a word about Israeli foil here – if you could imagine foil being as thin as Saran Wrap then you can imagine Israeli foil. When I pull my pyrex covered in Israeli foil out of the oven, the foil has holes in it. The 350° oven burns holes in the foil! And so I bounce for the Diamond Foil from America. And that’s where we continue with the ShefaShuk story…
It’s 23 shekel for the foil!
The foil – are you sure you want it?
We went back and forth for a while (of course I wanted it!) and it took some convincing but in the end she rang me the foil. But, alas, I had a second box.
You want two??
She probably thinks I have tin foil for a brain.
Yes! Two of them!
It’s 23 shekel each one.
Perhaps I had forgotten the offensive price.
In that moment I contemplated buying the Israeli foil purely out of shame and embarrassment although I doubt her intention was to shame or embarrass me. Mostly she was trying to help me save money. And to teach me. It’s a big thing here, the ‘teaching’ you. It goes back to Bob’s mishpacha theory. Anyway,
Yes, yes, I want both.

When you spend all your shekels on foil, eventually you run out.

Of shekels, that is.

It used to be you could change money on the black market. It sounds worse than it was. We would go to the back of the Kent Store on Ben Yehuda Street – and get a better rate than the hotels or even the banks. Now there are official money changing stores that look like Vegas pawn shops from the outside (neon signs flashing green dollar signs) but they are actually official places to change money and you get a rate somewhat better than the bank, without even negotiating. Of course Bob likes to go in there and negotiate anyway – his success rate is about 50-50. They really have the upper hand because where are you going next? The Kent Store is gone.

In any case, like you would expect, the money changer is sitting at a desk behind a counter and a plexiglass window. And like you would expect, the money changing store has walls, a ceiling and a front door. So yesterday when I noticed our local money changing store was under construction I started thinking of where else I could change money. But I saw a lady coming out of the store. There were construction workers taking a break in front. Sitting inside was our local money changing guy. No plexiglass window. Without a door even. Sitting behind his desk with sheetrock dust on his kippah. I looked up – there was no ceiling. Neat stacks of shekels on the table. Giving them out in exchange for dollars. I wondered for a split second about his security. Was he at least sporting his neshek? Of course he was. What did you expect?

1 comment:

  1. I love reading about your life in Israel, Lisa. I feel like I'm there! One of my favorite things is how the cashier at the market is always trying to get you to spend LESS. That would, indeed, make me feel as though everyone was always trying to be my auntie. I think I would also want to spend more just to assert myself. Also I might be driven to launch into a disquisition about the inferiority of Israel aluminum foil.