Liz and I had some lost time to make up for. Between our move to Jerusalem and her recent trip to Spain it had been a while since we’d had a chance to get together and explore the nooks and crannies of Israel’s outdoor markets and hole-in-the-wall eateries.
We started in Machane Yehuda where Liz picked up some baby artichokes (they looked a little sharp) and we both grabbed a quarter kilo of fresh chickpeas still in their fuzzy pods. They taste green and sweet and only vaguely sulfury (unlike canned chickpeas, which can taste very strongly so). Auralee loved shelling them.
I showed Liz the piles of unripe green plums I’d been enjoying snacking on, and that seem to me the very embodiment of Spring. Then after a stop at the Gat Juice Man we went in search of lunch. We stopped at a couple of small eateries in the Iraqi Shuk to peruse the menu, and then settled on a bustling corner spot called Rachmo. Apparently something of an institution in the neighborhood, the crowds did not mislead. Liz and I enjoyed a hearty lunch of medjara (rice and lentils), stuffed bell pepper and vine leaves, kubbe soup, pickles and chopped salad.
Now fortified, we stopped at my house to drop off our purchases before heading on to the Arab Quarter of the Old City. Once inside the Jaffa Gate, we quickly descended into the lesser-traveled alleys of the Quarter, winding our way towards the Damascus Gate where much of the actual (non-touristy) shopping can be done. Liz nearly screeched to a halt when we came upon a pile of spring wheat berries, also known as freekeh. You can read about that find here.
We wandered for what may have been hours in, out and around the Damascus gate. Fruit sellers wanted their picture taken, boys manned carts piled high with plums and chickpeas, old women crouched on the ground, selling mint and grape leaves picked fresh from their gardens, and piles of ma’amoul molds called out our names.
When the shopkeepers began closing their doors we realized it was time to head home. Exhausted, we trudged back to Nachlaot, a couple Ma’amoul molds and some freekeh richer and with the feeling that we had visited a slightly foreign land.
Tuesday Spring Salad
I know that many of you will not be able to get fresh chickpeas or green wheat berries. Winter wheat berries (soaked and cooked) and canned or cooked garbanzo beans are a fine substitution.
A couple handfuls of mixed baby greens, washed
1.5 cups quartered cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup garbanzo beans
2/3 cup wheat berries
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1-2 tsp honey
1-2 Tbs good mustard
couple glugs of olive oil
juice from half a lemon
salt & pepper to taste
mix, mix, mix