Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Growing up in Bethlehem

A friend asked, "The earth, the ground looks white and dry... I'd like to know how food is grown, and what is the typical meal like?"

It is very dry here most of the time and so the ground is very dry. However, there are farms in different areas that produce many things. Right now it is the season for plums and grapes. I think that cucumber and tomatoes might be grown in hot houses, but they are also abundant. In the market you can buy watermelon, apples, plums, grapes, bananas from Jordan, eggplant, eggs, meat and chickens, and so much more that I can't remember. 

This is part of the reason that water is such an issue. For the farmers to grow crops they MUST irrigate and when there is no water the crops just die. There is just not enough rain to sustain most crops. You can really tell the areas that have water and those that don't. Land owned by Israel has plenty of water and so it looks more lush and green. For more information on the water issue look at:

A typical meal always has pita bread. Often there are things that you can dip torn pieces of the bread into. One thing I really like is zaatar which is thyme ground into a powder and mixed with sesame seeds and other things. There is also hummus and thick plain yogurt. They eat a lot of eggplant and make it in a lot of different ways. They also use lots of different forms of sesame seeds. Tahini is one of them. They mix it with cooked eggplant to make a dip. They also use lots of olive oil and eat olives. Lorette, the woman I am staying with is an excellent cook and most days that I was here she cooked something delicious for dinner. On Sunday she roasted chickens filled with rice and then served them with bulgar wheat (boiled and then cooked with sauteed onions), rice, yogurt and a plate of fresh vegetables. She also makes something that she calls upside down which is fried cauliflower, carrots, onions, and other things cooked with rice. For lunch we eat Shwarma (like a gyro, sort of) and falafel in pita bread. 

I was really going to write to you about growing up here, but I have gone on and on about food, and I could go on more! I will write more in the next post, but first I want you to think about what it would be like if your parents could not live in the same city, but had to live separated by only about 15 minutes drive. Maybe it would be like one of your parents was only allowed to live in Georgetown and the other lived in Austin and the parent who lived in Georgetown had to get permission from the Government every time he wanted to visit the other parent. The same with the kids! Enough for now...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Janice,
    We read your entry about growing food and making food this morning. We were interested that we eat most of the food that people in Bethlemen also eat. Since it is summertime here in the US, we are also eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Lots of us like pita bread, hummus, and yogurt too.

    We have a few more questions for you:

    What types of beds do people sleep on?

    If there is a shortage of water, what do people do for showers? For cleaning and washing dishes?

    Do people have air conditioning in their houses?
    What types of jobs do people do in Bethlehem?

    Do families have pets? If so, what kinds of pets?

    Do people there have TVs? If so, what shows do they watch?

    What American sports do people there know of? How do they know about the sports? Do people there watch the Olympics?

    What kinds of stores do people go to and what do they buy there? We are especially interested in what the kids buy.

    Do any Americans ever come to visit or stay in Jerusalem? Only 2 of us have ever met anyone from Israel, so we are wondering if people there meet any Americans besides you?

    Thank you for helping us learn more about the children and adults in Bethlehem and Israel.


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