How many of you remember Allan Sherman? His parodies of well-known songs were all the rage in the 1960’s, including “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah,” “The Streets of Miami,” and of course my favorite – “Seltzer Boy” where he sings: “Don’t bring me water, I rather have seltzer, ‘Cause water don’t bubble, And water don’t fizz, Water I hate it, ‘Cause it ain’t carbonated, But a glass of seltzer, On the other hand is!”
While this is an admittedly unusual introduction to an Israel Matters column, it was the first tune that sprang to mind when I received what has turned into one of my favorite Israel gifts ever: a Sodastream machine! While Israel has been a world leader at turning salt water into fresh for decades via advances in desalination, Sodastream’s home carbonation devices turn tap water into Allan Sherman’s bubbly, fizzy stuff. These contraptions are so simple to use – fill a bottle of tap water, hook said bottle into the Sodastream gizmo and push the button, and presto (fizzmo?) – you have a bottle of sparkling water which is every bit as delicious as Perrier, Pellegrino, or Saratoga, but without all the recycling headaches. It doesn’t even require electricity. And the best part: Sodastream is an Israeli company! Buying a Sodastream for your home, office, or as a gift is a refreshing way to support the Israeli economy.
And expressing support for Israel by buying Israeli is what this month’s column is about. Having discussed Israel’s top companies and wine industry in previous columns (see October and December 2021), this month we thought we’d identify some Israeli brands and products that you can purchase in local stores or online.
Who likes chocolate? Who doesn’t!! But how about Israeli chocolate? Consider ordering from Max Brenner, an Israeli multinational company started by Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner (see how that works?) as a handmade chocolate shop in 1996 in the Israeli town of Ra’anana. Next time you are in New York City you can drop into their café in Union Square, or just stock up on supplies at their Times Square chocolate shop. Or, you can go online and get all manner of chocolates, mugs, fondue sets, and more.
As Israel Matters readers you know we love to eat like Israelis, but there’s much more than food when it comes to Israeli products. Israel is renowned for its cosmetics and beauty products. The best known such company is probably Ahava, which is the only cosmetics firm to have production facilities right on the shores of the Dead Sea (indeed, if you find yourself in Israel en route to Ein Gedi or Massada, you can visit the Ahava outlet along the way). While the Dead Sea minerals provide the ingredients that make Ahava products so special, Ahava has competition from other Israeli companies like Sabon (which is Hebrew for soap). You can visit Sabon at one of their four New York locations, or of course you can browse their collection online.
By the way, if you have trouble finding your way around New York City or anyplace else, make sure to download the Waze app from the Google Play or Apple App store. Google acquired Waze back in 2013, but it’s from Israel and the best wayfinder around.
If what we’ve shown you so far is not your bag, how about taking a look at Daniella Lehavi for a … bag (or another accessory). These leather goods are all designed and hand-manufactured in Israel. For those who prefer not to use leather products, there is also a line of exquisitely designed Vegan accessories.
There are many more Israeli products available in stores and online, but hopefully the little tour above should motivate you to think about how to go about buying Israeli. Time for another hit of Sodastream!
Eating Like An Israeli – Say Cheese!
Why is it that Israelis (and all Jews) eat dairy on Shavuot? Is it, as the Chofetz Chaim Rav Israel Meir Kagan wrote, that the kashrut laws did not exist before receiving the Torah, but once the Torah arrived, the laws of ritual slaughter were immediately in force, making it impossible to prepare a meat meal to celebrate G-d’s gift? Or is it because, just like mothers nourish their newborns with milk, the Torah is the spiritual nourishment of the Jews? Maybe it’s all in the math, since the numerical value for chalav (the Hebrew word for milk) equals 40, and 40 is such a revelatory number in the Torah (40 years wandering in the desert (not dessert), 40 days on Mount Sinai,…)? All of the above and more? Whatever the explanation, there is no disputing the facts: we go milchich on Shavuot, and we’re milching this holiday for all it’s worth with the following Blintzes Soufflé recipe!
Cheese blintzes are a common treat on Shavuot, but they take a while to make. You can buy them frozen, and they are pretty good… but this recipe is super easy and so much more delicious! It’s also got a lot of protein in each serving (13g) so makes a nice meal.
This blintz souffle recipe has just about every dairy product you can imagine – cream cheese, sour cream, butter, cottage cheese. Everything but the cow.
Serve warm and add any kind of fruit topping – blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or even a berry jam (you can make a nice “sauce” by adding a little water to some jam in a saucepan and heating it for a few minutes).
Try this easy dairy meal and you’ll be enjoying Shavuot like an Israeli!
- ¼ lb butter softened
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened and cut up
- 1-pint small curd cottage cheese
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350* F. Grease a 13″ x 9″ baking dish and set aside.
- In a blender or food processor, combine all the “batter” ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream, orange juice, flour, and baking powder) until blended. Pour half the batter into prepared baking dish.
- In a food processor prepare blintz filling. Combine all the “filling” ingredients (cream cheese, cottage cheese, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract). Mix until smooth. Drop filling by heaping spoonfuls over batter in baking dish. With a knife, spread filling evenly; it will mix slightly with batter, that’s ok. Pour remaining batter over filling.
- The unbaked souffle may be covered and refrigerated several hours or overnight until ready to use. If you do refrigerate before baking, bring souffle to room temperature first.
- Bake uncovered 50 to 60 minutes or until puffed and golden.
- Serve immediately with sour cream and fresh berries or assorted jams.