One of the hardest things about being home from Jerusalem (aside from the jet lag) is the visual depravation. There is something about Middle Eastern and Mediterranean culture that understands the seductive nature of food. As we traveled around Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the bazaars of the Old City, I couldn't help but notice the small markets tucked into every nook and cranny or the fruit and vegetable sellers plying their wares outside the city walls. In East Jerusalem hot bagels could be purchased along with the daily paper from news stands dotting crowded corners.
Each of these was a visual feast. As I took my fill of religious sites and holy places I also took my fill of the beauty that is Israeli and Arab food. I'm not even speaking of the wonderful cafes everywhere or the incredible gelato to be had on Ben Yehuda street in West Jerusalem. I'm talking about barrels of olives, bags of spices and teas, freshly roasted and still warm nuts, dried fruits, and pastries--oh the pastries--rugelah, eclairs, baklava. More than just a show, these stalls and markets are how people do their weekly and daily food shopping. It is actually the kind of shopping that I tend to do here--visiting a variety of markets to stock my larder, the difference is, in Jerusalem, this is how everyone shops.