I'm about to enter a no-eating zone. There can't be many in Israel. You never seem to be more than a few meters from some sort of food outlet, and if you are then you can be sure that most people are carrying emergency supplies. What is it about the Jewish psyche that it needs to masticate at a frequency unmatched by any other people I've encountered on my global travels? Perhaps we carry in our DNA a particular gene associated with a zest for eating that enabled a poor and persecuted people to survive? This is certainly not a trivial argument. Of course the process of eating is one of life's more significant comforts - I eat therefore I'm OK. We who gave the world "nosh" have perfected the culinary range of food for eating on the move. There's felafel and shwarma of course. And there are the rolls. The puny English sandwich measuring close to half a centimeter in thickness is dwarfed by its Israeli cousin stuffed with roasted vegetables, cheese, tuna, cold omelets and salad. Wherever I go, buns, yogurts and pastries are attempting to sate endless hunger. I've never eaten so much or been so hungry. But the ubiquitous eating habits of the Israelis should carry a health warning. First, it's contagious and secondly, so is the accompanying bulge. This morning I didn't feel much like eating, but now I'm not so sure. Sitting in the waiting area outside the recovery room at the Hadassah-University Medical Center, Ein Kerem, the great nosh is in full swing. Now here's a new experience. Of course, thank God, it isn't every day of the week you spend waiting for a loved one to emerge from the operating theater. But the idea that you can see them soon after their operation before they are returned to the ward is revolutionary, as far as I'm concerned. The surgeon even appears to tell you how the procedure went - now that's bizarre. In England I was assured by surgeon friends that medics opted for surgery as a specialty to avoid human discourse… I believed them. And the UK recovery room? That is strictly out of bounds. I stayed around for some time in recovery while my mother drifted in and out of sleep. I watched thoroughly professional nurses give gentle and warm comfort to patients and relatives; a doctor held the hand of an especially distressed patient. This was hands on in the best sense of the words. Then the time comes to go up to the ward. "When can I give her something to eat?" I hear myself ask. "Not just yet," comes the reply. Never mind, the jam sandwiches I've brought for her will keep… or perhaps I'll have one.

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