Short Order: Singing the noisy mall blues

It's too bad that some Israeli mall managers think the way to attract customers is to aim blaring music and non-stop audio advertising at them from the moment they walk in the door.

mall 88 (photo credit: )
mall 88
(photo credit: )
It's too bad that some Israeli mall managers think the way to attract customers is to aim blaring music and non-stop audio advertising at them from the moment they walk in the door. What's worse, they may be right. Not this customer, though. I still remember the evening, years ago, when I bumped into my old friend David Mound at a wedding. (We go way back to my first months in an absorption center here, during a time when you could take 10 lirot to Tel Aviv's Carmel Market and come away with two shopping bags full of fruit and vegetables.) Eager to talk about old times over a quiet cup of coffee, we ended up at a small mall in the center of the country. In every cafe, if the rock or pop wasn't already under way, it started up almost immediately upon our arrival. We finally sat down in the only relatively quiet eatery - upon which a live band appeared out of nowhere and began tuning up noisily. We never did get our chat. But we had a good, if somewhat rueful, laugh. Which made it so much more of a pleasure to visit the Harel Mall in Mevaseret Zion on a recent Friday. There was no music, no loudspeaker ads - just the hum and buzz of good citizens taking their pleasure on what passes in these parts for a weekend. We lingered over our coffee out of sheer contentment. Mall managers: Take note. 'I AM on to a big discovery!" writes Jodi Levy from Ra'anana. "You know those little packets of fresh-frozen herbs that are divided into little squares? Mix them with olive oil and seasoning for an amazingly easy and delicious way to either: * toss through hot pasta with some Parmesan; * rub over fish and bake; * mix with chopped tomatoes for bruschetta; or * use as a dressing for pasta salad." SALSA VERDE 6 cubes frozen parsley 9 cubes frozen garlic 6 cubes frozen basil 1⁄2 cup olive oil salt and pepper to taste I GOT a telephone call last week from Albert, manager of the fruit and vegetable department at my local supermarket. He had promised he would inform me when parsnips arrived in the store again and was suiting action to word. I told him I had popped in the evening before and had been distressed to find that parsnips were being sold in closed plastic bags, just like last season, and not even perforated ones at that. I repeated that while Israelis call parsnips gezer lavan (white carrots), they are really much more like cucumbers in the way that moisture quickly causes them to spoil. The parsnips I bought, I told Albert, had been a step away from deterioration - and I could swear I heard them sigh in relief as I liberated them from their suffocating wrapping. Why not sell them loose, like in Europe? I asked him - or in string nets, like potatoes, so they can breathe? He's considering it. PUFFED PARSNIP 500 gr. parsnips salt and pepper to taste 60 gr. butter 3 Tbsp. cream 1⁄4 tsp. nutmeg 1 egg, beaten 2 Tbsp. bread crumbs Peel and halve the parsnips, discard any woody cores and cut into chunks. Cook in boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes, until tender. Drain well. Preheat the oven to 180 . Mash the parsnips with half the butter, the cream, nutmeg and egg. Season with pepper and salt, if necessary. Turn the mixture into a buttered oven-proof dish. Melt the remaining butter and pour over the top. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake for 20-25 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown. Serve hot. (From Vegetables by Mary Cadogan.) FROM THE same cookbook: SWEET & SOY LEEKS 750 gr. leeks 2 Tbsp. water 2 Tbsp. plum jam 2 Tbsp. soy sauce Trim the leeks, then cut them in half, lengthwise. Wash thoroughly, half lengthwise again, and cut into 5-cm. lengths. Place in a saucepan with the water and cook, covered, for about 5 minutes until slightly softened but still crunchy. Drain if necessary. In the same pan heat together the jam and the soy sauce, stirring all the time until the jam has dissolved. Add the leeks and heat through for about 2 minutes. Serve hot. FURTHER TO a previous column, I have been asked to point interested readers to a Web site called, which provides information and resources for people on gluten-free diets. [email protected]