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Sam-I-Am Violin on the streets, fundamentalist Judaism, planting organic vegetables, and the like.

All Cities Need a Yemenite Quarter

ISRAEL | Thursday, 24 January 2008 | Views [1387] | Comments [3]

From the mall at the foot of the Azrieli Center. Kinda nice.

From the mall at the foot of the Azrieli Center. Kinda nice.

Mike Greenberg, my friend, you would be proud.

Tuesday in Tel Aviv was a good one for food. I start modestly, breakfast is tea and toast cheshbon ha'bayit (on the house) at the hostel. Three pieces of white bread, one thing of butter and one thing of jelly. so obviously there's a difficulty in choosing how to allocate the condiments. The first piece of toast inevitably gets half the jelly. The second gets half the butter. And the third gets the other halves of both jelly and butter. Gotta end strong.

I just happened to meet two Boston-area travelers in the hostel, so we marched to Jaffa for the day. We were very hungry by the time we walked into Itzik Gadol at lunch time. Itzik Gadol, for the uninformed, translates to Big Itzik's, which is just a brilliant restaurant name. It rivals Uncle Moustache's in the Arab Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. Anyways I translated for my compatriots and we had kebabs in oversize pita (laffah). The options were chicken, beef, turkey, chicken hearts, and turkey hearts. Guess which one I chose. Actually I originally went with straight turkey but then scratched it at the last minute for the chicken hearts, remembering my recent positive experience with the first chicken heart I had ever eaten. Also if it's on the menu so prominently, normally, then it's probably good.

At this point it's necessary to replay the parting wisdom of my friend Michael Greenberg:

(At the bar on a Tuesday night for Quizzo (pub Quiz))
Mike: Just promise me you'll be adventurous when it comes to food, okay?

Sam: You know me, don't worry. I hear there's a lot of pigeon eaten in Egypt though, I don't know if I'm ready for that.

Mike: [pause, drunken stare] But you know what? Just eat the pigeon. Eat the pigeon.

So I ate chicken hearts. I know, this is not so revolutionary. But for me it was a big step. Later on in the evening, after carrot ginger juice in the Carmel Market, and parting ways with the Boston folk, I asked my hostel owner about dinner in the Yemenite Quarter, and he said turn the corner and walk 200 yards, there's a guy named Zechariah making soup.


I love when I get verbally housed in Hebrew. Zechariah for some reason opens his shop at 3am and closes at 8pm, so I appeared as some stupid American moseying in after closing thinking he could get some soup. Which soup though? I couldn't understand a number of them, so I repeated one of the unidentifiable ones, he pointed to his innards, and then said he'd get some for me to try (I also love when Hebrew has to be spoken because my acquaintance doesn't know English). It was so money. I nodded in approval and sat down to a huge bowl of whatever it was. I thought I asked for chicken 'innards' but the broth and color of the meat implied beef. I later found out that I had eaten pupik (gizzard) ((how do you spell 'pupik'?)) soup. Do cows have gizzards? And mom, how come your gizzards aren't this tender?

Anyways I am definitely going back tonight or tomorrow, soup rules. Zechariah is actually a little like a feebler, Yemenite version of the soup nazi.

And other things; Tel Aviv is really great. I loved Philly and Philly isn't even a nice city, so I can only imagine how cool it would be to live here.

Tags: Food & eating



Hey Sam,

Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful descriptions and excellent photography! I am now fully caught up on your blog... even though I was supposed to be working. (Shhhh. Don't tell anyone.) Sounds like you're having some amazing adventures. I'm thinking the zipline thingy may be why they invented the word "meshuga." Looking forward to the next installments. Josh and Hannah say "hi!"

Love, Liz

  Aunt Liz Jan 25, 2008 8:08 AM


Pupik! Very nice. He pointed at his stomach because "pupik" also means "belly button". Gizzards are a non-mammal thing; look up the word "gastrolith". Tender pupik is a real treat. I bought a duck yesterday at the poultry slaughterer's with a pupik that defies all proportion -- I think I'm going to confit it.

And lvivot: good man. I am quite proud of you, and a little thankful for your kind omissions. For the sake of posterity: the "drunken pause" was definitely punctuated with a "drunken hiccup". And I didn't remember the event after the fact.

That said, Tel Aviv is awesome. Have you been hanging out on Shenken, or...?

  Michael Greenberg Jan 26, 2008 7:45 AM


"And mom, how come your gizzards aren't this tender?"
Dude, your'e a freak! (can be read in two ways, haha)

  Me Mar 23, 2012 11:39 AM

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