swank website of the restaurant. If you're back from the website: See how here, too, last night's post pervades: Yitzhak Rabin was to eat there on the restaurant's inaugural night. He was assassinated the day before. This is a phenomenon I was unable to articulate last night: this tremendous pain beneath beauty; a kind of invisibility that is shocking every time it is revealed. So night after night Darna welcomes guests who haven't read their website (like ourselves at the time) oblivious to its almost-history, to its ultimate mission. Maybe phenomenon is too strong a word: maybe people just have to eat, to keep on being human.
Yarden wine (which I think I can get in the kosher section at the Marsh in Avon, so hoorah there), which is from the Golan Heights region and feasted slowly and delightfully. There were spices and peppers and every last one of Oliver's sardines disappeared. I restrained myself from photographing every course (which has been known to happen), but can still remember the lamb shank tagine that Rebecca and I shared and the exquisite crêpes with a kind of heavenly soy milk/evaporated milk (which is or isn't really milk? I never know) combined with honey for dessert. We were there for three hours and reconstructed the entire mission of the liberal arts, I do believe.
Mahane Yehuda - the enormous outdoor market that we made sure to visit the first time before Friday afternoon. Interestingly, that's where the trip went after Yad Vashem - a boisterous affirmation of life; or, as Rebecca put it "They tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat!" And so before Shabbat begins, there is an ecstatic flurry of people choosing last cuts and morsels, kilos and special orders. And eggplants the likes of which I've never seen.
Fleur de lys chocolates! Will that Crusader presence never fade?
And dates and figs and more dates and every kind of nougat and the things it turns out you can do with sesame paste!
I have an image of tubs of Bulgarian cheese as my last image for a reason. It's everywhere in Israel: on menus, at every buffet, on tables. It's an immediate reminder of Sephardic history and presence, of the earlier modern Israel. What I didn't know, and yes now savor is the word, is even a little bit of the story of Dimitar Peshev, Bishop Kiril, the Bulgarian Communist Party, and countless other Bulgarians and how they stopped the deportation of Bulgaria's Jews - all of them. Tragically not the Jews of Thrace and Macedonia - they were sacrificed for Boris III's Axis politics. That I learned from The Lemon Tree by Tolan, but now I want to read Beyond Hitler's Grasp by Michael Bar-Zohar. Does every ethnic group that emigrated here leave its mark on Israeli cuisine? Probably, if you know how to look and taste. But there was something I learned about the emigration of Bulgarian Jews, for whom life was only much harder after WWII and so Israel that much more desirable, that makes the innocuous but omnipresent reality of something as simple as cheese stunning: by 1949, there were 52,000 Bulgarian Jews in Israel. And 5,000 in Bulgaria. That is why there is Bulgarian cheese everywhere. Because so many came into a good land and lacked for nothing.