Sunday, February 26, 2012

When is a Grapefruit, Not a Grapefruit?

Food blog today, peops. I just ate a pomelit and I realized that I should really write about them because I know that a lot of my American friends have never heard of or tasted them and that's a shame. They are SPECIAL.


I still remember the first time I saw the curious fruit known as a pomelo (the fruit I ate just now is its smaller kissing cousin, the pomelit or "sweetie").  I had been in Israel only a month or so. A girl in one of my classes brought out this ginormous thing I thought was a grapefruit. She started cutting away the peel. It took ages. When she was done, there was a HUGE pile of peel and a small pile of fruit. 


The pomelo looks a great deal like a giant grapefruit.  The skin is most often green but can run anywhere from pale yellow to yellow-green, going all the way to just plain green. The taste of a pomelo is similar to grapefruit, too, except that the pomelo is sweeter and lacks the acidity of grapefruit.  Just like a grapefruit, a pomelo is eaten without its membranes. One eats only the yellow or pink papules contained within.
A pomelo has a large ratio of waste to fruit and it’s a bit of work to get to the delicious insides. The peel is quite thick; there will be at least an inch of peel, if not more. A knife helps. 

Once you get past the thick peel, you still have to free the fruit from the membranes, which are thicker than those of other citrus fruits.  The good news is there aren’t too many seeds in a pomelo and they are easy to remove.

The fruit itself is dry compared to other citrus fruits. The sweeter hybrid known as the pomelit, is much juicier than its larger relative the pomelo and I tend to keep a lot of paper toweling around me when I eat one.

If you like using citrus fruits in spinach, avocado, or chicken salads, try substituting pomelo or pomelit. It’s like the fruit was BORN for this purpose. The sections hold their shape and look like colorful jewels. They add sweetness without the cloying insistence of say, mandarin oranges. At the same time, they don’t make your mouth pucker as grapefruit sections tend to do.

We’re really past the season of pomelos and pomelits, here in Israel, but I’m still buying them up when I see them. It seems I can’t resist them at all. Nor do I want to try.

My favorite fruits:

White Peaches


What are some of your favorite fruits?

Pomelo, of course!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Revering that which the World Reviles

Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that I like to sing. I may not always be able to summon up the energy to write in my blog, but I am always ready and willing to sing my guts out. The big news is I've been singing with a newish choir for a few months now and tonight we have our very first performance.

We may not sound exactly polished. It would have been better if we'd practiced for a few more weeks, but the opportunity to perform arose and so we are rising to the occasion. The occasion in question is an event for women only, the Women’s Beit Midrash Rosh Chodesh Adar Celebration which celebrates the new Jewish lunar month of Adar!

At the link cited above, my choir is referred to only as "Judy Kahan's choir." It was the vision of this advertisement which spurred us to try to come up with a name for our group. If we are happening enough to perform, we need to have a name! That's what we thought, anyway.

Now I like to sing, but I also think of myself as a wordsmith. I wasn't going to settle for just any old name for our choir, because naming things involves the use of WORDS. I started brainstorming names and tossing them out to my husband and jotting down likely candidates. I kept in mind something our director, Judy Kahan, had mentioned at our very first rehearsal: that she would like us to dedicate our singing to the memory of Elyse Steinberg (A"H), a woman in my community who succumbed to cancer some years ago.

Once I had a few names I sent some out to the members of the choir by email.

Pyncopation, I dared! Extra Soul, I ventured. Pink Cloud. Achayot* Elyse.

Uh no. They weren't buying.

Some of the women said nothing. Others said, "We don't care what we're called."

Two others suggested more conventional names most of them involving the name of our town or quotes from scripture.

I tried to prepare myself to accept a name that seemed, well, plebeian and just plain BORING to my mind.

Oh darn.

But okay. I squared my shoulders and prepared to give in on the subject. The majority of the women preferred a more normal name. I was a minority here. It was time to show a little sensitivity to my sistahs. I could do that.

I decided that when we next met, I would agree to one of those other names.

Then a funny thing happened. One of the women called and said, "I sense you are upset with me over the issue of naming the choir. I don't care that much about the issue and it's fine with me if you want to choose one of the names you thought up."

Here I was going to try to be sensitive and she beat me to it--the sensitivity thing. Ha!

Made me think of two people who desperately wanted that last portion of chicken going, "No, I'm completely full. You take it," and, "No you. I couldn't eat another bite," with each giving in to the other and saying they didn't care while meantime both cared so dreadfully that whoever won had actually LOST by showing her hand.

Did that make sense? The one who gave in was going to feel good for being kind to the other. That meant that if we chose one of those boring conventional names, my friend and fellow choir sistah was going to feel bad because she suspected I felt bad about the choir choosing HER name suggestion.

Either you understood that or you didn't.

But I realized that I didn't want my friend to feel bad because she would know I felt bad they hadn't chosen one of my names. So I decided I would win/lose and let the choir pick one of my silly creative choir names.

But first I had to come up with something better. Something really, really GREAT! So all the next day, I kept paper and pen close by and jotted down name after name after name. Here was the list I generated:

Jane Doe (get it? as in doh a deer?)
Singing Settlers
Slice O'Heaven
Inner Child
Slightly Unsettled
Kaptains of Kahan

We had our final rehearsal for our performance Monday night. When we polished off those songs as good as we were going to get them, the women all looked at me. Time to pick a name, their faces said. One of the ladies said, "Okay, Varda. Let's hear your list. Out with it."

And so I read them off.

They chose the second name in my list, "Singing Settlers."

I was a little disappointed. That was probably the most boring of all the names I'd come up with, but you know, at least we'd settled on SOMETHING. They were happy and I was, too.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked it: Singing Settlers. The name said something about the ideology of the women in my choir: The world REVILES Israeli settlers, but we couldn't be more proud to bear the appellation of settler. In fact, darn it, we were going to SING IT OUT TO THE WORLD:

WE ARE SETTLER WOMEN.We are fulfilling our birthright by settling the Holy Land and we are filling the rarefied air of the Judean mountains with SONG.

That name is sounding better to me all the time.

Yesterday, I called Judy to ask her help with my part and when we finished our conversation she said, "You know the name Singing Settlers is really starting to grow on me."

Me too.

*Hebrew for "sisters" or "sisters of"