Saturday, November 13, 2010

The shuk on Friday mornings

Yesterday we took a 15 minute walk down to the big outdoor traditional market in the city of Tel Aviv.  It runs 6 days a week, and has several blocks of the cheap chinese made clothing and kitchen items that you can find in many third world markets.  But it also has 4 or 5 blocks of fruit and vegetables, and several side streets with meat, dairy, bakeries, and dry goods, which haven't been open during other times of the week.  I should have expected a crowd, as everyone does their shopping on Fridays in preparation for Shabbat (or because it's one of the few non-work times that people have to do their shopping).  Luckily we weren't in a hurry. 

We've been going here once every 1-2 weeks to load up on fruit and veggies.  This time we spent a little extra time exploring the side streets, which paid off nicely.  We discovered a pork vendor, with fresh cuts of all kinds of pork (they had bacon but couldn't slice it, so we only purchased a couple pork chops for the week).

We also walked into a dry goods store with asian writing outside, but discovered much more than asian sauces and noodles.  They had tortillas, quinoa, and much more.  I was reminded of an observation I have made while shopping here - there is more variety.  Take quinoa, for example (top pic).  Besides the fact that this is a south american grain that I didn't expect to find in Israel, this living room-sized store carried 3 different varieties - royal, red, and trio royal - all organic, and priced similarly to the U.S. 

And speaking of variety (and quality), there are the bakeries.  We discovered an amazing one where all the loaves were 10 shekels (about $3).  And pitas are sold on every block.  There are the traditional Israeli pitas which are the most common (on the right side of the middle pic).  Then there are Arabic pitas, which are larger and not made to open into a pocket but rather used like a wrap.  And then there are the Druiz pitas which look more like a large crepe (you can see one of these bubbling up on the hot plate with the Druiz woman in the background.  They slather these with various spreads.  Dan almost bought one, but they wanted 15 shekels for one here, and he wasn't that hungry.

The shuk, while not terribly efficient, can be quite fun when you have time, a sharp eye, and an adventurous spirit. 

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