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Thursday, February 17, 2005
Israelis and feeding habits
One of my very favorite bloggers Treppenwitz was writing about how Israelis start their meeting by practically forcing each other to eat or drink. Personally I think it's a nice "tradition" (especially since I like to eat more than the average person). I ended up writing such a lengthy comment, that I decided to post it here (a bit edited):

Well I'm not familiar with business meetings, but as far as Israelis generally are concerned, I DO recognise this pattern of behavior. It's almost scary how everybody is obsessed with feeding you. Here in Scandinavia it is the exact opposite. People don't see the point in "wasting their food (and thus their hard earned money) on other people", and inviting someone over for dinner is a pretty big deal (making the myth about the "cheap Jew" somewhat bizarre). But in Israel, every single person I visited insisted on feeding me. A typical visit would be something like this:

Host: Maria, you want coffee?
Me: no thanks I'm fine
Host 5 minutes later: Maria you sure you don't want coffee?
Me: No thanks I really am fine
Host: sure?
Me: yes I'm sure
Host 5 minutes later: You sure you don't want coffee?
Me: well why don't I have a cup..
Host: you want a cookie with that, or a sandwhich or something else to eat?
Me: oh no thanks, I'm not hungry, coffee is great, thanks
Host brings back coffee and asks again if a want a cookie
Me: no thanks
Host again in 5 minutes: you want a cookie?
Me: well maybe one cookie
Host brings back a plate with 20 brownies
I think to myself that I have to eat at least 3-4 brownies, otherwise I'll be rude
Host: you want a sandwhich?
Me: no thanks I really am fine, these are great brownies
Host: no they are nothing special. They're from the store. Come back after shabbat and I'll bake real, homemade brownies for you, they're much better!
Me: thanks...

I'm not exaggerating to spice up the story here. Really.

Posted at 12:15 am by Maria

February 21, 2005   03:07 AM PST
The custom of Hospitality is widespread, but sadly, not universal.

When my family and I were living in Mexico, I immediately noticed the generosity of people.

Whether we were visiting a wealthy family or a poorer one, hosts were insistant upon sharing food, drink, Etc.

Even when we met our neighbors for the first time, we were invited for coffee, dinner, etc. It was very charming.

Alas, here in southern California, this is not the case....
February 20, 2005   05:16 PM PST
There is a religio/historical reason for all this feeding of guests: many stories about Abraham involve his lavish hospitality. In the desert, if you didn't (don't) give your visitors something to drink, they might die of thirst before they reached the next oasis.
February 19, 2005   04:34 AM PST
Along the lines of the above, I just remembered something that happened to me, and I am not making this up.
For some reason my mother had to be out when I was to come home from schoool for lunch, so it was arranged I would go to my aunt's. She was a dear soul without any kids of her own, a camp survivor.

I started on the potato, and she asked if I did not like the peas. When I ate the peas, she asked if there was anything wrong with the potato, and so on.
February 18, 2005   07:44 PM PST
I can't tell you how glad I am to hear that ;)
February 18, 2005   06:23 PM PST
Let me put it this way, I had a very good chuckle.
February 18, 2005   02:27 AM PST
To see the origins of something does not take away the humour, it just gives it a "hamishah" touch.

Sorry, the exact English equivalent escapes me for the moment.
February 17, 2005   07:42 PM PST
Yeah I'm sure you're right Harry. But don't you still see the humor in it?
February 17, 2005   04:32 PM PST
There may be somewhat of an explanation for this feeding habit. When coming from a background of poverty and deprivation, this emphasis on being a good and kind host by offering food is understandable and could persist for a generation or two.
February 17, 2005   12:05 PM PST
how is this?
February 17, 2005   11:43 AM PST
You have a fascinating blog.

But I agree with Al's comment above - it's difficult to read because of the colour scheme.

Could you change it?
February 17, 2005   10:26 AM PST
I love your blog- just one comment: I find that the color scheme you've chosen makes it somewhat difficult to read. If you could do something about it ,that would be great. If not, not th end of the world! Keep up the good work!

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