Friday, August 11, 2017

What's Your Milk and Honey?

The purpose of this blog is a nourishing & pleasing Shabbat table. Please print and share, or forward or...

Mmm FetaDespite my previous post about the quest for falafel, Israel is not called "the land of falafel."

It's well-known that the Torah calls it, "the land of milk and honey."

What is that supposed to mean, really? Abstract bounty?

As you know, I'm always looking for the deeper meaning, so last week I went on a quest to find the holy source of one of my favorite milk-products:

Pastures of Eden Feta.

To the uninitiated, this Trader Joe's staple is one of the best fetas ever.

And I'm not the only one who says so.

And it happens to be kosher.

From Israel.

(And you can even buy it online if your local TJ's is sold out, which they often are.)

All that you will glean from the packaging is that it's made from sheep's milk on a farm .... somewhere in the Land of Israel.

But where?

It was really hard to find information about it. The online info is out of date. After several unanswered emails and phone calls, I was about to give up, when I hit the jackpot. I reached someone named Avi who was indeed the exporter of Pastures of Eden.

Now, he couldn't set up a tour for us on such short notice, but he did reveal to me the region where it is made.

Guess what? It was right where we were staying in Tzippori.

(BTW, this was our guest house - another story for another time), but here's a picture of how we felt when we arrived after a hot day of driving:

Happy campers

See the pool? It's a work of art. Fed by a natural spring, decorated with beds of fragrant mint.)

Mitch, the owner, has a few acres of olive trees which he makes into oil, vines from which he makes his own wine, and so many pomegranate trees he doesn't know what to do with them.

I Mitch if he knows any sheep dairy farmers nearby.

Sure, two doors away.

Picture this - an American family moved to Israel 30 years ago and started their own sheep and goat dairy farm. Selling their wares at farmer's markets. Pretty simple.

No, it wasn't the TJ source. But we tried their feta and it was just as good. (Better, actually - because it was fresh.)

In a word: amazing.

So that's the milk. What about the honey?

We criss-crossed the northern part of the country, throughout the Galil (Galilee) and Golan.

Everyone talks about how small the country is, "about the size of New Jersey."

But when you drive around you get this feeling, "Wow, it feels so spacious."

You see forests and mountains, many small and large towns, countless fertile farms; but even more barren hills awaiting creative Americans to come and build their own towns or sheep farms....

And then there are the endless orchards.

And date palms nearly everywhere you look, such as this one (those are unripe dates he's holding):

Unripe dates
To me, that's the meaning of honey.

It's the sweetness that you don't need to live, but makes life so, well, sweet.

Question for your table:

What's your milk and honey?

Shabbat Shalom

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