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.