This Friday, we (the international students), along with several independent pupils from the Hebrew Ulpan and the Madrichim accompanied our tour guide – Mr. Yisrael Ne’eman or “Izzy” – for a day trip in the city of Akko. Resting on a palimpsest of archaeological ruins, modern Akko is built atop millennia of fallen empires, each seeking to conquer the Middle East and control what was, historically, a vital and lucrative port-city on the Mediterranean Sea. Over the course of the morning, Izzy drowned us in a detailed account of five thousand years of history. Among other sites, we surveyed the walls and cannons used to repel Napoléon Bonaparte, walked through Turkish bathhouses and explored Templar Ruins.
For this week’s culinary experience, Alon (our madrich) introduced me to a popular regional dessert called Kanafeh. Upon first glance, the Kanefah looked sugary and delectable. But alas! Alon had led me astray. Beneath the sweet topping rested a layer of thick, and slightly savory cheese – a combination of flavors that simply demands an acquired taste. Unfortunately, the Kanafeh was not to my liking.
While I typically consider myself a grocery shopping enthusiast, shopping for food in Israel –most notably, cheese – has been quite an experience! Adjusting to the need to identify products in Hebrew and the aggressive albeit unfamiliar manners of the general Israeli public – specifically while waiting in line – has certainly been a challenge, but I refuse to give up!
Noah Falkner is a University of Maine student. He studied abroad in Haifa, Israel in Spring 2018. This article originally appeared on the Haifa International School website.