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Emily L Learns How to Eat

December 3, 2018

Last night was the first night of Chanukah, and even though I told myself this year I would eat more modestly, I left the party having eaten more than I had intended. As it turns out, sufganiyot are hard to resist.

Typically, I overeat on latkes. But I was able to keep myself to just two of those fried potato pancakes. There were plenty go around, but after everyone was served, leftovers were sparse. The same was not true for the sufganiyot.

As the baker who made them was filling these deep fried orbs with jelly, I was on hand to help hide the evidence of the less beautiful ones. And then, every time I passed through the kitchen, there they were calling my name.

Interestingly, while I was struggling to eat moderately at a party hosted by Israelis, Emily was writing about her experience of learning to eat well in Israel. But I’ll let her explain.

Little Bits of Everything
By Emily L

I love traveling. With low cost airlines, Airbnb, smart phones, and more public transportation, it is becoming more affordable and accessible to travel. I recently returned from Israel, eating my way through this wonderful country. I enjoyed the fluffiest pita, incredibly smooth hummus, roasted cauliflower picked from a kibbutz that day, and baba ganoush I will dream about for years to come.

Daniel and I have both been trying to figure out what it means to be ‘healthy’ while still enjoying all of the treats life has to offer. I am a pretty health conscious individual, but I was raised to be a ‘clean platter’. I don’t like food waste or leaving anything on my plate; I feel guilty if I do, but then I feel guilty if I am so stuffed I can’t move. Israel helped me put things into perspective.

After enjoying a light breakfast of yogurt or eggs, I would head out to various cities, exploring all of the historic sites. Looking for a place to eat, I would Yelp a nearby restaurant or ask a resident working at one of the sites I was visiting. I found some wonderful Israeli restaurants, but what fascinated me is how meals were served. A small basket of pita would be brought to the table soon accompanied by a 6-10 small dishes of dips, salads, and little bites. These plates included just a sample (perhaps 3-4 bites) of hummus, eggplant in tomato sauce, hot sauces, tzatziki, cheese, pickled vegetables, olives, avocado, and other delicious bites, usually featuring a heavy hand of olive oil. A main dish of meat or fish would appear about 15 minutes later, in a small, but hearty portion. It was exactly what I wanted; to try everything, but not overdo it.

This meal would easily sustain me for the rest of the day. I didn’t feel the need to eat dinner, instead enjoying a dessert, some fruit, or small dish and a glass of wine. I never felt stuffed or sick going to bed.

In my opinion, Israel has meal planning figured out. I wish more American restaurants would embrace this model or even if our culture embraced the idea of a large lunch and small dinner, but I am not sure it would fit into the way we have scheduled our lives.

This notion of a bigger lunch and a smaller dinner is one that I’ve endorsed for years. It continues to drive me batty that places which serve proper portions at lunch, lose all sense of control when dinner time rolls around.

Dinner portions that are larger than lunch? Who needs that much food in the evening before going to bed? What are these people who are so famished at meal times doing to produce such a hunger? And how are people still hungry after sitting down and swallowing over six hundred calories?

It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around the way people in this country eat, and the way they demand to be fed. But in the meantime, I’m happy to swim against the current and pursue other options.

Maybe I need a trip to Israel too. I’ll just need to stay away from the donut shops.

One Comment leave one →
  1. tom permalink
    December 3, 2018 2:35 pm

    Eggs Benedict Suggestion for Emily, i was recently driving through schuylerville and stopped in Sweeneys and was blown away by their eggs benedict. Only small ding is that they cheat with their poached eggs and use some sort of poaching device as they have a cup like shape. but other than that everything else was eggceptional.

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