To break away from our North Tel Aviv neighborhood and pick up a rosary for devoutly Catholic, ex-neighbors back in San Fran, the family ventured out to Jaffa last night.
Each time I take the time to go there, I’m impressed anew by the architecture and history within the stone structures. Jaffa shares cousin Jerusalem’s historical and aesthetic beauty, but the port city lacks the holy city’s heavy sense of foreboding despite similar religious and political intensity.
Judaism cites Jaffa as a shipping gateway and fortress, mentioned in The Book of Joshua and ruled by Kings David and Solomon during the 1st Temple era and The New Testament stakes this as the place where St. Peter resurrected Jesus’ disciple Tabitha, the tomb site still intact.
More recently, King Richard the Lionheart took control of the city after Salah El Din’s, 5-year reign in the late 12th century and in the Here and Now, it’s a mixed Arab/Israeli, Tel Aviv outer limit which is way, way cool.
Yes, there’s Mafia-style killing, drug dealing and theft but there are also primo, abandoned, warehouse spaces partially occupied by live-in loft artists, world class eats and the lively, flea market. Read: Very, very hip.
The old men playing backgammon and swilling beer in the back alley bingo-hall-joint off Yefet Street have been there for at least 25 years (75, according to vendor ‘Moti’) as have some of the tired restaurants serving up Middle Eastern, kabob fare at huge prices to unsuspecting tourists opposite Moti’s chatchke shop where we bought Holy crosses, Holy dirt and Holy vials of water, all blessed by a Holy father. Amen.
I don’t fancy myself an unsuspecting tourist, at least not in these parts anymore, so how did it come to pass that my family and I sat for a meal in one of these truly awful, dives??
We were hungry, Tonny was carrying 40 pounds of sleeping, dead weight, aka Raphael, a wee voice inside whispered to give the place a chance despite appearances and we felt sorry for the restaurateurs: their place was barren.
For future reference: Toss pity out the window and press ‘mute’ on the inner voice. Now, vegetarian and vegan friends, why don’t you hop on out to the kitchen and fix yourselves a tofurkey sandwich with sprouts while we go over this next part, hmmmm?
Lesson #1: In years past, I truly savored grilled, goose liver. Loved the soft, fatty texture and gamey flavor. Sue me. Ethically, it’s a travesty, I know. So isn’t it wonderful to have put that craving to rest? I gagged after one bite.
Lesson #2: If the grilled turkey tastes like traces of ammonia are running through it, STOP EATING AT ONCE! Which is what I did. No matter how you cut it, ammonia is meant for cleaning toilets, not for recycling through one’s digestive tract.
Lesson #3: If the chips (french fries) are so heavily weighed down by the vat of oil they’ve been soaking in overnight as to droop forward when you pick them up, Put Them Back On the Plate. Your complexion and arteries will thank you in the morning.
Silly me, I asked these guys why business was so slow.
Next time, we’ll hit the galleries and then eat at Cordelia. My ridiculous pride of not seeing owner Nir Tzuk (Nikko, to me) for 4 years, assuming we’re on the outs and so having too large an ego to step into his divine place, kept me from enjoying what would definitely have been a sumptuous meal. Next time.
Vive Le Jaffa!!