The food in Israel is sublime. I know for a fact that I’ve gained at least ten pounds in the last week. Seriously.
This is the Mediterranean. So of course, there is a lot of hummus and olive oil and warm breads that come with all kinds of pastes and spreads. And this is before the food comes.
I’ve had fried calimari. (Squishy and salty. Not my thing.) I’ve had chick peas prepared in every fashion imaginable. The desserts here–homemade sorbets prepared with fresh fruit, buttery and flaky pastries served warm–have rivaled anything I’ve ever had at home.
Tonight, I went on a walking tour in the old town of Jaffa. My tour guide was Nir Zuk, Israel’s version of Emeril Lagasse. We had warm yogurt soup at an Arab restarurant, a weird cheese dessert at a Hebrew resstaurant and then hummus, tomato paste and lamb with pita bread at another restaurant. We ended our culinary tour at Nir Zuk’s restaurant. He prepared passion fruit sorbet, rich chocolate mousse, white chocolate mousse and creme brulee with a buttery crust on top. I was in heaven.
And yet. The best thing I’ve had here? An apple pie from McDonald’s.
Now, let me tell you something about this apple pie. It’s not something you can get from home. Years ago, McDonald’s used to serve fried apple pie. And the crust was buttery and hot and crunchy and perfect. Well, they stopped serving it that way a few years ago. Now they are baked. And they are vile and gross.
When I went to Rio de Janeiro a few years ago, my cousin Allison told me that in Brazil, they still served the fried version. Indeed, they did. And I ate them every day while I was there.
I decided to see if Israel was also blessed to have the unhealthy–but far superior–version of the apple pie.
I enlisted my new friend Lauren to check it out with me. The inside of the McDonald’s smelled like seawater and coconut, which was a little disconcerting. The McDonald’s in Tel Aviv is right alongisde the water. Imagine eating a cheeseburger while overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Sweet.
Of course, the menu includes things like McShwarma and McKebab and other Middle Eastern foods that have been Mc-ified.
I ask about an apple pie. The woman tells me it will take six minutes. I take that as a good sign. At the McDonald’s at home, the pies are just sitting around, ready whenever you ask.
Lauren and I exchange war stories about celebrity journalism and then my pie is ready. It is so hot that I can barely hold it. I walk with Lauren across the street and while she shops for souveniers, I sit on the steps of the shop and dig in to my apple pie.
It is a religious experience. The crust is hot, crispy and perfect. It wasn’t super greasy. It was actually light and airy. The inside was just filled with apples suspended in a syrupy goo. It’s nothing I could eat all the time. But when you give in to eating something you know is crappy, you have to just enjoy every bit. So I savored every sugary drop.
It was absolutely wonderful. I wish I could take home a dozen. But considering how much weight I’ve gained on this trip, perhaps it’s better if I leave the sugary carbs at home.
I must pack. Tomorrow, I’m going to the Dead Sea. And then? Back home!