Visiting Carmel Market and Grocery Shopping in Israel

Today I decided to visit Carmel Market with Mika on my bike.  I was in search of fruits, vegetables and spices. 

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Mika fell asleep strapped on the back of my bike. When Mika falls asleep, it is impossible to wake her up!  So everyone was yelling me in Hebrew at the market and motioning to Mika. 

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Mika looked like she was dead as her body dangled from the seat she was strapped in.   A man at a produce counter stepped away to hold my bike with Mika attached so I could do some shopping.

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When Mika woke up she had some of the fresh watermelon from one of the vendors.

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After a few weeks in Tel Aviv going to the grocery store, I was surprised at how much cheaper the prices were here compared to the store.  The quality of the produce was also much better.  Note to self, always shop here vs going to local grocery store. 

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I asked Ohad, our Israeli friend, why everyone doesn’t shop at the market and he told me many people do, including his family.  He also told me Fridays the prices are cheapest because the vendors are trying to sell everything before Shabbat when they close for the weekend.  It’s also the most crowded day. Ohad also told me the restaurants at the market also have great food.  I tried street food at the market earlier this year on a visit and it was delicious!

I’m also seeing that many of the fruits and vegetables are seasonal here.  So, things we see in abundance during the season like mango When we first arrived, you can’t buy when the season is over.  When we first arrived we couldn’t find any fresh berries the kids love to eat in the US.  Now, it is apparently berry season, so we are eating our fill of strawberries and blueberries we are now seeing at the market.  I’m also trying new produce in abundance during the season, like the sweet persimmons.

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Unlike in the US, the process of getting good meat and fish is also different here.  I often get meat at a local butcher called Tony’s.

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Tony’s Butcher shop

Tony is an Israeli who speaks very little English and I do not speak much Hebrew, yet.  So, we are trying to teach each other a little of our respective languages with each visit.  The first visit he taught me Hebrew numbers up to 10 when I tried to order 5 steaks.  Five is Shalosh, by the way!  Also different from the US, when you order burgers they are not premade in any way.  The butcher loads chunks of meat into the grinder and out comes your freshly ground burgers.

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Grinding my burgers at Tony’s

I love that everything is so fresh here although you do sacrifice time.  Like many things here, it takes a lot longer to shop as a result.  Similarly, when you buy fish in Israel, you are usually picking out a WHOLE FISH which is taken to a back counter and cleaned and cut into filets on the spot!

I was surprised that chicken BREASTS are cheaper here than the chicken THIGHS which are in higher demand according to the butcher I met from the Ivory Coast. Butchers often cleaned the chicken by removing all of the fat and cut them into perfect filets for the grill or cooking.  Many places sell chicken thinly sliced for schnitzel which is a popular dish here in Israel.

I’m also learning how to cook using the amazing spices available here.

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Shops have spices designated for chicken, fish, meat and even to add to rice and other grains.  It’s been funexperimenting with all of them!  It also makes cooking much simpler adding a little olive oil to the spices gives the food a huge amount of flavor!

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Me at Ethiopian spice shop

Does this ring a bell? Have something to share?