On the 30th April I celebrated my first aliyaversary. I started to think about everything that had happened in the last year from getting married to voting in the election to starting, and finishing, a business. It has been crazy but I decided to force myself to focus on how my perceptions of different situations have shifted.

In order to survive in Israel, a society so radically different to those western lands we hale from, a ‘glass is half full’ philosophy is essential. Yesterday, the 40th day of the Omer, was my Hebrew birthday. The previous few years, whilst in Yeshiva, I had connected to it purely from a religious perspective of giving out blessings. This year, however, it felt different now I feel like more of an Israeli citizen - obviously with there being a difference of being one and felling one. Everything Jewish I previously associated with, now is more than just a religion but a daily way of life - I even felt a bit patriotic celebrating it, despite it not showing up on my Facebook feed. My Ulpan class and I went for a tiyul around Baka and Katamon and, typically, it started raining. Previously in my life I would have been disappointed, but now I was happy due to how much Israel needs water. We visited the museum of natural history and whereas a year ago I might have thought it was lame compared to those in London and New York, now I took some pride in the strange Israelised exhibits. I just feel that it is not enough to live here and coast and get frustrated by the differences in culture but we need to focus on finding the good, usually through uniqueness, in these new experiences and they will surprise all of us.

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My ability to do this is based on a variety of factors. Through osmosis for sure - if you're stuck here then it eventually sinks in - but also on being close to two important people. My wife has always been very zionistic, whereas I was always more haredi and more practical. I could live anywhere with good food where I can make a living (which I will, please God, be able to do here soon). Due to this she always gets excited by those things I previously found frustrating - such as managers in restaurants telling us when the chicken is dry that that is the way its supposed to be lol! I love her for her positivity and it is (very very) slowly rubbing off.





Also, my Ulpan teacher Linda has explained to us the etymology of much of Israeli culture and society so now appreciate it a lot more. During our oral exam, in order to practice Israeli conversation, the examiner gave us a situation and we had to complain about it. When I did my Spanish oral exam when younger we had to order a meal whereas here we already had a meal and had to complain about it. Hilarious!

Due to this thought process, I was thinking about food I loved here and also missed from abroad. I figure that if you make those dishes you miss better than they are at home then you won’t resent Israel from not having them. Jews from America and England, and possibly other places, love Chinese food - or the western interpretation of it. Here in Israel it seems to be lacking. Maybe this is because everyone here is more religious and believes, at least subconsciously, in what Rav Avigdor Miller ztz’l said about it that it was ‘kosher ham’ as was making us eat like the non-Jews, but I don’t believe this. On MasterChef it seemed that if you made traditional Israeli food you got extra points than if you were creative. Maybe Chinese food is too distant from Israeli tastes as so far I have not tasted a decent Chinese meal that’s kosher here. Maybe Israelis just don't like it?! Either way I miss it and wanted to make my own version of my favorite dish: crispy chili beef - a dish I’m sure Chinese people would shoot me for saying is connected to their cuisine.

Usually this uses tiny, low grade strips of beef and fries them so intensely that it only has a hint of beef left but I wanted to take it to the next level by using aged entrecôte, a beautiful silky sauce, flavorful rice and vegetables.



Place six entrecôte steaks on a wire rack in your fridge and leave them for two days as the air circulating around the steak will start to dry it out, concentrating the flavor and tenderizing the meat. Slice them into strips and dip them into a thick mixture of 4 eggs, 130g cornflour, 65g of flour, a tablespoon of five spice and a teaspoon of salt and fry in 180oC oil until golden.

For the sauce, boil up 150ml rice vinegar, 150g brown sugar and 75ml soy sauce, reduce to a simmer and add two chopped chillies, a teaspoon of chili flakes, a four-inch piece of finely grated ginger and 5 finely sliced garlic cloves and keep cooking until mixture is thick.

I served mine with some broccoli that I roasted and then briefly sautéed in sesame oil and garlic and on a bed of egg fried rice with fresh turmeric to give it a nicer color.



Why not decide what you miss the most, or love the most, and try elevate it and make it perfect for you. Remember, your creativity is only limited by your imagination!

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