Friday, November 25, 2011

Swirling Thoughts #213 - I am thankful every day.

But in the spirit of American Thanksgiving, I’ll direct my thankful thoughts to the bounty of produce in Israel. Available to Americans preparing a Thanksgiving meal across the Atlantic (yes, we do that).

Not having stepped foot inside a supermarket in months, thanks to my husband taking over the grocery runs when he’s here (and thanks to when he’s not), I somehow still feel qualified to comment on the seasonality of produce in the aretz. I’ve put in my fair share of time combing produce aisles (and the shuk) in search of a mango in March (no chance), figs in July (rare), and cumquats in September (close but not quite).

For the most part, everything has its season. And with hardly an imported fruit save for apples, there is only the season. Negating completely my mother-in-law’s favorite maxim, ‘everything in moderation’. More like everything in extremes. Mountains of strawberries in the winter, not a one to be found, come summer. By the time grapes and mangos arrive in the late spring it is not unusual to see shoppers euphorically kicking up their heels in the produce aisle (well, this shopper, anyway). Before cherries arrive on the scene in June (and not a one in May or July – cherries are strictly a June fruit), one could almost forget we get cherries in this country.
Mom, what’s a cherry again?
*A real question last April.*

With few exceptions, Israeli produce aisles boast gorgeous arrays of fruits and vegetables strictly according to the season. But I want to focus on the exceptions. For some reason celery is available all year round. Long after its “season”, long after it is even recognizable as celery. That it still grows is, I suppose, the reason that it remains available. That and the obvious fact that when Israeli consumers (me included) want celery, they’ll take whatever they can get. No matter that the wimpy scrawny ‘stalks’ look more like scraggly sprigs of parsley.

If you are a lover of sweet potatoes, that staple of all Thanksgiving tables, rest assured: your love is to be found in the produce aisle all year round. But stop at the bank on your way to the grocery. Evidently the Israeli demand curve for sweet potatoes is totally inelastic – like a junkie’s need for smack – Israelis will pay ANY PRICE for sweet potatoes. And so will the unwitting husband who is simply trying to please his wife by doing the grocery shopping according to her list.
Honey, you saw I got you your sweet potatoes? The ones you asked me to buy for you.
Yes, thank you so much, dear.

Ok. (silence) Just so you saw that I got them for you.(The unspoken conversations in a marriage are sometimes the best!)

If I should feel sad about the nonexistence of fresh cranberries (for some things, there is no season at all), I focus on the mountains of strawberries on the horizon. For which I happen to be, in terms of produce, most thankful.

Happy holiday.