The Best Israel Has To Offer
I never had a childhood trip to Israel. Didn’t get to go until I was twenty and paid for it myself. You might feel bad for me, a childhood spent never experiencing the kedusha of the Kotel, the warmth of Eilat or the scenery of the Golan, but don’t, because all I missed was the crunch of a McDonalds fry. Tel Aviv? Keep it. The Old City? Pfft. But the idea that there was a magical place where all the food we wanted was kosher was more than we could handle, those of us in my class who shared the same Israel-less fate. When classmates came back from a Pesach spent in the holy embrace if the Jerusalem Raddisson, we would immediately corner and “grill” them (see what I did there?) on the first day back at school.
“Tell us”, we’d say, our eyes glazed over with childs wonder, “tell us about KFC. Do you really get a bucket, just like the commercials on TV? What does it taste like? Can you… can you possibly describe it?”
If we were lucky they might even have procured a ketchup packet for us to ooh and ahh over. Proof held in hand that our promised land did exist. It was like having a coat hanger from the closet that led to Narnia. Or maybe they had pictures of those familiar signs and colors, twisted with the addition of Hebrew but recognizable nonetheless. Smiling family members waving under the sign, the expressions on their faces showing hints of their inner promises to their stomach that they were about to experience gastronomic delights of the sorts that kosher America could never offer. These lucky ones were about to enjoy the food that we lusted after in the mall and food courts while being resigned to our packed sandwiches or whatever had an OU on.
Israel for me is so much more than the country, people and sites. It’s about being able to go to a mall and have hot chicken for lunch. It’s about a pizza from Pizza Hut and a burger from Burger King. It’s the eternal argument of who has the best schwarma and where the best cheap pizza is. It’s a muffin grabbed from a bakery while I’m in town and it’s the wrap I pick up for dinner.
It’s not just me, I know. On Avenue J there are two places to get a sub and Subsational is far superior, yet the kosher Subway is still in business. Even after finding out this for myself, I still went back a second time just for the thrill of being able to order a sandwich at Subway, buy a drink and chocolate chip cookie, and sit down at a table with my Subway tray, Subway cup and Subway napkins and for a minute feel like I was experiencing the forbidden.