We all remember our first time. The discomfort. Confusion. Wondering…”is this NORMAL?” Ah…I too remember my first Israeli breakfast. Vegetables??? IN THE MORNING??? American teenagers, cucumbers, and tomatoes don’t mix well, especially around eight in the morning. You won’t catch us eating anything red and green at that hour unless it’s Lucky Charms. Cereal and eggs…mmm.
Sixteen years later, I’ve reached a happy place with cucumbers and tomatoes. But it wasn’t until I talked about it with some of my Israeli friends that I realized that…wait a second, maybe we’re the ones who eat weird stuff in the morning (Americans, that is). Last fall, I found myself in an International House of Pancakes in South Florida with my Israeli co-worker Shirly (that’s Sheer-li, as in “sing to me”, not Shirly, as in Laverne’s roommate. By the way, what was the most ridiculous sub-plot of that show? The fact that the girls actually agreed to hang out with Squiggy, who clearly suffered from major social awkwardness, or that Laverne had her first initial embroidered on every single shirt? Let’s discuss…)
Shirly, on shlichut to the States, was shocked at the, um, CRAP that we Americans choose to eat for breakfast. Well, maybe not WE Americans, but at least the ones who keep places like IHOP and Denny’s in business. Check out IHOP’s staple dish for the last 20+ years, the Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘n Fruity: two eggs, two bacon strips, two pork sausage links, two ham strips, hash browns, two fluffy buttermilk pancakes, and two clogged arteries (no extra charge). Not to state the obvious, but is it any wonder that America has weight issues? Shirly brought up the vast difference in the breakfasts that Israelis eat. Bye bye, donuts; hello, fruits and cheeses. Labane, white cheese (no other translation for g’veenah l’vana), yogurts, and of course, our good friends Misters Cucumber and Tomato.
Last week, my parents visited from the States. One morning, I had them over for breakfast. Cheeses, eggs, coffee, OJ, pita, and a large bowl of Israeli salad later, they were stuffed. “We don’t usually eat such a hearty meal for breakfast.”
I recently spoke about this culinary divide with my Israeli friend Eitam who used to work with me in the Israeli Consulate in Atlanta. “I never understood the combination of bacon and pancakes! Salty and sweet together? That’s like putting whipped cream on your hamburger!”
Don’t give us any ideas, my healthy friend. Invention is the mother of Cool Whip.