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Israeli street food – the magnificent and humble boureka

The square shape of the bourekas tells us that they are filled with a potato filling One does not have to spend a long time in Israel to get your first introduction to a boureka. These savory stuffed pastries are everywhere You'll find them for breakfast in hotel dining halls, in countless bakeries and coffee shops, on picnics and even at restaurants that only serve bourekas. They are often eaten in Israeli homes as part of a 'light' or diary meal in the evenings. (Most households in Israel usually serve the large cooked meal at lunchtime.) More often than not, bourekas are also an integral part of the wonderful Friday or Shabbat brunch table. To be really honest however, you basically eat a boureka whenever you encounter one. They are that irresistible. If you stop to grab a quick coffee at a coffee shop, the comforting smell of the bourekas will convince you to upgrade to a 'café ve'ma afe' (coffee + pastry). Wandering through street markets, the sight of fres

The Soldiers' Seamstress

Israeli army uniform

Those tailor fitted trousers doesn't just 'happen'

There' re many things that I didn't know about living in Israel. The big things you more or less expect. Such as the seasons being upside down from those in the Southern Hemisphere. and thatChristmas day is just a regular work day here in Israel.

It is however the small things that you don't know that makes you feel that life in Israel is a constant learning curve.

Nearly everything that has to do with raising a child in Israel, you learn as your eldest moves through the Israeli education system. Parent-teacher meetings are held in the presence of the child. My eldest daughter's first-grade teacher must have known that 'overseas' children are not brought to these meetings and just said to me at my very first meeting: "Next time bring the child too."

 I also didn't know what the expected gift was for a bar/bat mitzva school friend. This is when you phone up one of the Israeli moms of your child's friends and ask her. This mom has older children, often volunteers for all the school activities and won't think that you're a complete idiot for asking such obvious questions. 

My eldest is now doing her army service and I'm still on that learning curve.

 The latest thing that I had to learn is that army-issue clothes do NOT fit. Especially if the soldier is female. When you have your own soldier child, you realize that jut about every uniform worn by a female soldier (many male soldiers too), has been especially adjusted by a seamstress. The problem is that YOU have to find this seamstress. Actually your daughter has to but this is definitely one of those chores that gets outsourced to a mom 
as soon as possible.

This soldier uniform seamstress has to be a bit of an unicorn with the following qualities:

  1. She has to know what she is doing She not only needs the necessary equipment, sewing machines and correct thread colors, etc. but also be a good seamstress. The soldiers literally live in their uniforms 24/7 for a few years. Those newly adjusted seams have to hold strong for a long time.

  2. Not be too expensive because the soldiers have several uniforms that need to be adjusted.

  3. Has to work fast because the soldiers have to wear their uniforms. They do not have time to wait a week or two for a slow seamstress to pick up steam. (Say that fast 😃!) The uniforms have to be adjusted over the weekends when the soldiers are at home. Since everything is closed on a Saturday, Fridays are the only day available. 

And exactly how does a soldier find this amazing seamstress? 

By word-of-mouth of course. Also known these days as ask-in-a-Whatsup-group. Luckily asking 'does anyone know of a good seamstress for army clothes?' is not a  'stupid' question and can just be asked in the group.

This is exactly how my daughter and I found Dorit of Pardes Hanna.

Dorit owns a small sewing emporium with three seamstresses sewing up one uniform effortlessly after another. A visit to her place on a Friday morning is like being swept up in synchronized sewing dance. 

As the seamstresses sew and sometimes even iron the uniforms, Dorit manages the never ending stream of clients. She tells the newcomers what to do, "put on your uniform upside down and then call me", sticks pins in the upside-down uniforms and cuts off the unneeded bits of material with a large pair of scissors. In between she takes payment and answers the phone. 

The pinned and/or cut uniforms are placed in a plastic bag together with a note with the client's name and phone number. Dorit then unceremoniously throws these bags right next to one of the three seamstresses. They just have to reach down and the next bag there is waiting for them. 

These seamstresses are amazing. They not only make the necessary adjustments, but never mix up the uniforms AND help Dorit with the flow of customers as needed. 

One of the ladies was giving her husband shopping instructions over the phone while making adjustments to army uniforms. 

Fridays are set aside for the soldiers but here and there a civilian sneaks in too. Small adjustments are done right away but if you want anything fancy or are looking for extra attention, then Dorit will quickly brush you off. 

"We only work with soldiers on a Friday." she'll say as she turns to the next customer. "Come again during the week."

The adjustments to the army uniforms are made within an hour or two. Or even ten to fifteen minutes if you come early in the morning.

Ones leaves Dorit's sewing emporium with a bag of newly fitted army uniforms and a bit stunned at the fast service. Happy that this chore is done and that you've become a tiny bit more adept at life in Israel.

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