Make it. Eat it. Love it.
I am an Ulpan dropout. Don’t judge. You would be too given the same situation. It all started about 10 months ago when I arrived in Israel and was considered a “עולה חדש” (oleh chadasha-new immigrant). עולים חדשים (olim chadashim – new immigrants) enroll in a program called Ulpan. Ulpan is a intensive language program developed to teach hebrew to new residents of Israel. Sounds like an amazing idea right? It is. If it works.
I was so ready to start the class and learn the language of my new home.
In no time at all I was able to get out the words “אני לא מדברת עברית” (Ani lo medeberet ivrit -I don’t speak hebrew) and was excited that I could say this to people instead of starring at them like a deer in headlights when they spoke to me. After that it was all down hill.
See, I live in Be’er Sheva among many עולים חדשים (olim chadashim), which you would think would be amazing. It would be if they also all spoke english and we could help each other. But, they don’t speak english. They are Russian and speak russian and so did my Ulpan teacher. This is where the problem arose. My class was primarily made up of native russian speakers and because of this my teacher would explain everything in russian. Katherine and I would look at each other baffled not knowing if she was speaking in russian or hebrew. The second problem was that our teacher, a lovely woman, wasn’t able to explain things well enough in english. Because of this, translations were often way off and many a class consisted of a game of charades trying to guess a word she was trying to teach us but didn’t know the english for. Frustrating and not helpful.
And so, here we are back at my original statement; I am an Ulpan dropout. Really it was doing more harm then good. I was learning hebrew better on my own just listening to people around me and looking things up in my translater. My hebrew is very far from perfect or fluent. I can get around fine on what I have taught myself. But, I would really love to leave here one day knowing the language of the country I lived in for few years.
I love to cook. Obviously. I spend a good part of my time in shuks, supermarkets, spice stores and restaurants all over Israel. I even intend to start a culinary program next year. So wouldn’t it be grand if my supermarket hebrew (as I like to call it) was flawless? The answer is simple, yes.
This brings us to my new project. I am going to teach myself some hebrew through what I love doing most, cooking. How? do you ask. Well, through hebrew cookbooks. That’s right. I am going to cook my way through hebrew and I am starting with a beautiful cookbook I found called “מסיבות; אוכל, יין, חברים” (Mesybot; Ochel, Yayin, Chavarem- Parties; food, wine, friends).
This project of mine should be interesting, fun and at times hilarious since some translations are just so off when put into google translate. Though I am leaving to travel through China for the summer in a few short days, I couldn’t wait until I was back in August to begin this project.
My first recipe on this journey is “מול פריט” (Mol Paret) translated as “With Item”. Yeahhhhhh. Ok well it’s not that. It is however, a beautiful Mussel dish with yummy flavors like white wine and parsley. Correctly translated as mussels with chips or french fries (Moules-Frites in french) I changed the recipe slightly by adding שום (shum- garlic) and חמאה (chamah- butter). I also didn’t make the fries and opted for a delicious crusty bread to soak up all the yummy sauce with instead.
Join me on my journey of cooking through hebrew.
Olive oil (שמן זית)
2 onions, chopped (בצלים קצוצים)
1 cup white wine (כוס יין לבן)
1 cup fish stock (כוס ציר דגים)
60 grams butter (60 גרם חמאה)
6 grams mussels, fresh and clean (6 מולים, רענן ונקי)
2 bunches parsley, chopped (2 צרורות פטרוזיליה, קצוצים)
5 garlic cloves, chopped (5 שיני שום קצוצים)
salt and pepper to taste (מלח ופלפל לפי הטעם)
Heat some oil and butter in a large pot and fry onions and garlic until golden (חום שמן וחמאה בסיר ומטגנים עד להזהבה)
Add wine and stock and bring to a boil (מוסיפים יין וציר ומביאים לרתיחה)
Add mussels and cook covered for about 1 minute (מוסיפים מולים ומבשלים בסיר מכוסה למשך דקה אחת)
Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper (מורידים מהאש ומתבלים במלח ופלפל)
Top with parsley (מוסיפים פטרוזיליה)