Organically-grown foodie

Okay, I’m a little sneak. I previously wrote and published this post on February 6 for my wellness-related blog, The Wellness Bitch. However, its connection to Israel is clear and relevant, and has much to do with my making Aliyah. I even added a special little something to this version.

Some people mistake my interest in food for an interest in food.

By that, I mean just because I am constantly thinking and writing about food, people who don’t know me well automatically assume that I like to cook, enjoy food preparation, and think it’s groovy to come up with surprising new ways to prepare root vegetables.

This is not true. In fact, until I was practically forced to cook for my family when I realized that most of Trader Joes’ frozen meals were cross-contaminated with peanuts (a food my son is severely allergic to), I preferred to reach into the freezer for dinner, not the vegetable crisper.

I am not a foodie.

I do not enjoy watching anything on The Food Network, save for Ace of Cakes (I’m amused by the ingenuity and wit of Duff’s crew) and the occasional Jamie Oliver (because he’s so darn cute and an activist, to boot.)

I arrange food on plates with as much creativity and intention as a lunch lady. And I really, really hate the aftermath of preparing lovely meals — dishpan hands.

However, I have to admit since I started buying organic produce from a local farm, and my husband is closely watching whether or not this budget line item is worth it, I’ve become a lot more playful in the kitchen.

The first week I received the basket I discovered the many uses of cabbage. Shredded cabbage salad. Sauteed cabbage with onions, tomato, and garlic. And this dish I used to love to get from my local Ethiopian restaurant in South Orange, NJ.  I suddenly transformed into a little Jewish Julia Child, which I guess would make me a mini Joan Nathan, since she is already the Jewish Julia Child.

This week, I’m exploring fennel and peppers for a very simple reason: I need to make room in my refrigerator. There are so many peppers and fennel bulbs that I can’t reach the hummus.

When I lived in New Jersey, very close to a Whole Foods Market, I bought plenty of organic fruits and vegetables. But, despite the advice and urging from many of my foodie friends, I stuck with the stuff I knew, loved, and could be sure my children would eat. In the vegetable category, this left me with broccoli, spinach, and kale.  None of which has made an appearance in my weekly organic delivery basket. Are my kids enjoying the cabbage and fennel, too?

No, they are not. And this is the very reason I didn’t join a co-op or CSA in the States. However, as my access to organic food here is significantly limited, and gas is extremely expensive, this is the most practical and affordable option for our family right now.  (To learn more about why I choose organic for my family, please read more of The Wellness Bitch, or talk to the folks here in Israel who work on non-organic farms to learn about the unfortunate incidence of cancer among their co-workers.)

I seek comfort, though, in the knowledge that my children eat Israeli salad for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and that I brought the Jessica Seinfeld cookbook with me instead of selling it at my yard sale.

If I am really lucky, perhaps she has a trick for hiding fennel.

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