On my next visit to Israel I spent more time with family.
My brother took me to Shuk HaCarmel, Carmel Market.
Tel Aviv’s biggest and most important market, it is a feast
for the senses with aromas of cardamom, turmeric and
coriander. There were heaps of oranges, watermelons and
figs, bootleg music tapes, mounds of candy, and shawls,
carpets, jeans and t-shirts. Next to the hand-crafted and
decidedly local artwork, low-end toys made in China
wrestled for space. Wind-up dogs that yipped loudly,
plastic dolls that looked anything but cute. Vendors called
out loudly in four languages (Hebrew, Arabic, English and
Russian) touting the once-in a-lifetime deals of whatever
goods they were selling.
Shuks play a central and important role in Mediterranean
culture. To the outsider they can seem intimidating but
to the native they are as warm and familiar as their own
living-rooms. Many people do all of their shopping
at outdoor markets and avoid brick and mortar shops
altogether. Not only can they find everything they want
at the shuk, they can negotiate prices, socialize, and build
personal relationships in a way that those of us living in
big, anonymous cities cannot even begin to understand.
The shuk is open every day except Saturday (the Jewish
Sabbath) and Friday is the busiest day. There is not a lot of
petty crime like pickpocketing, but tourists should be aware
that they will be cheated if they do not haggle over prices.
Bargaining was something that I did not enjoy at all, so I let
my brother do it for me. He took real pleasure in it and was
very entertaining to watch.
Because of the intense summer heat, the Shuk HaCarmel
does provide shade in the form of corrugated plastic panels
that form a kind of ceiling over the stands. And nothing
is more refreshing than a glass of freshly-squeezed Jaffa
orange juice, available everywhere and a real staple of the
Israeli experience. ■
Here are two recipes courtesy of my sister-in-law, Anat