Sunday, November 16, 2008


Yes, five weeks until Hanukkah and the doughnuts are already in the shops! Yes, yes I'm sure folks from the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have already spied doughnuts in their bakery. Maybe for them doughnuts, or even donuts, are available year round but here in the BOB (back of beyond) doughnuts are a seasonal delicacies - OK so they are not delicacies rather a sugary lump of fried dough, but round here they are normally only seen at Hanukah.

As soon as I stepped off the bus in Naharia the warm sugary aroma assailed my nostrils. I was virtuous and instead of dashing into the nearest bakery, I entered the health food shop to buy nuts as per my shopping list. Well, the shopping list had actually been forgotten at home but the part about nuts I remembered (the part about raisins I did not!)

Across the road from the health food shop is the most recently opened, and possibly most fancy, conditoria in Naharia. Dudu's shop is all dark wood, glass display cabinets and romantic lighting, and his prices are considerably more fancy than anywhere else in town. Though I feel obliged to admit that the cream cheese cake on chocolate brownie base was ridiculously delicious which another reason why I hurry past the shop safely on the opposite side of the road.

When I first moved into this area the most renowned conditoria in Naharia was Lahmi. On special occasions, such as my release from the army, my father-in-law would order one of their gateaux. Not only was the cake delicious and light but these were the first cakes I encountered in Israel that contained real cream. The added bonus was that the dedication on top of the cake was always piped onto a thin disc of marzipan. Yum marzipan. As other conditoria moved in to town Lahmi went commercial, the shop closed and they now produce an exclusive, read expensive, range of biscuits and cakes to be sold in supermarkets.

The first conditoria to challenge Lahmi was Pie. I heard the name and dreamed of all the delicious pies they might offer: Pies being a staple of the British menu but a rarity in Israel. Naturally, I soon discovered that in that peculiar Israel way Pie sold everything but: Cakes, biscuits, mini pizzas, even fruit tarts but no pies. However, I mustn't complain as thorough the years Pie has provided me with several very yummy, 40-portion, chocolate cakes for my children's birthday celebrations.

As it happened, my way through Naharia went right past Pie front door. And I confess I succumbed. The soft, sugary aroma was too much for my will power to resist. Like all bakeries they had developed a range of glazed doughnuts in order to circumvent the government price control on Hanukah doughnuts ,(yes that is Israel's socialist past you see peeking its head round the corner) however my taste doesn't run to these colourful confections and I chose a sugar-coated, price-controlled, jam-filled doughnut.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Local Elections

Today I voted in the local elections. At first I was worried that my husband wouldn't be able to vote as is out of the house from 6am to 8pm. However, a quick phone called assured me that the election station would be open until 10pm.
I didn't have to ask where we would be voting even though my husband managed to misplace the election cards. My children had a holiday from school today because it is the local election station and it is where we have always voted, at least since we have lived here.

In previous years I was an active participant in the election, after showing an interest in certain issues I was recruited to the campaign. I stood on street corners, visited various members of our community and spent several hours of election day hanging around in the booth near the election station with other volunteers who were there to arrange transport for those who had difficulty arriving, explaining to people exactly how to vote for us and generally chit-chatting about the day's progress.

Today when my husband got home from work we drove up to the school. As usual the place was packed and
there was a festive atmosphere. There were banners for the various candidates hung on fences and posts for several hundred metres in every direction and there were ballot papers all over the ground. There are also the booths, recycled Succot booths, were the various candidates' supporters hang out. Someone had parked there car at the side with the doors wide open and the radio turned up as loud as possible belting out Mizrahi (Eastern) music.
The gate was surrounded by a herd of people chatting with the guard but we had no problem getting through.

Inside the school gate it was a little calmer: the ground
was clean of papers and there was a plant smell of coffee as the inspectors stood, chatting quietly cups in hand, around the entrance to the election stations. A chubby, middle age guy lounging against a wall was in charge of the election lists and told us exactly where we needed to vote.
A man at the door checked we were at the correct place and let us in one by one. I went in, presented my id card to the panel, and in exchange received two envelopes, then I stood behind the screen and choose two pieces of paper - one for each envelope. I double-checked there was only one paper in each envelope, closed the enveloped returned to the panel placed my envelopes in the sealed box, retrieved my id card and exited.
Outside we chatted to a previous mayor for a while and then made our way home.

Elections in Shlomi tend to be rather emotional affairs. It is a small community and the electorate are often personal friends or relatives of the candidates.
This year, as in previous years, there have been physical altercations between the supporters while small forests and vats of ink have been sacrificed to create flyers making claims and counter claims of incompetence and even criminal misdeeds.
There is also no doubt that the 'reign' of the present incumbent has been coloured by alleged dodgy dealings and nepotism. In addition to all the officially printed posters and flyers there was a home printed flyer that appeared all over Shlomi in the last week.

It says "The Second Lebanese War: We won't forgive or forget" Despite the fact that two years have past since the war, it is clear to anybody who was resident in Shlomi at the time that this flyer refers to general resentment about the way the local council behaved during the war. Probably this issue will have most effect on how people voted today. Tomorrow we will know just how much of an effect it had.