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Saturday, 24 June 2017

Alwayswriteagain: Lots of Bread – But Not In Bed!

Alwayswriteagain: Lots of Bread – But Not In Bed!: The wide variety of bread salads available throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East is due surely to the region’s ancient peasant cu...

Lots of Bread – But Not In Bed!

The wide variety of bread salads available throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East is due surely to the region’s ancient peasant cultures and the need for desperate cooks to feed large, starving families as cheaply and swiftly as possible.

I know from gorging on Italian panzanella, Lebanese fattoush and Greek dakos that they make a wonderful one course meal that can keep you feeling satisfied for hours.

Bread SaladSo I was intrigued to flip through Bread Salad and Italian Men – A 60s Food Memory ** by US writer Marjorie Harris who like many women of a certain class and era has maintained a half-drunk ardour for Italian food – and handsome men – long after everyone’s supposed to know better!

Harris, who boasts a doctorate in Italian literature and a background in law, recalls ogling the copy of Michelangelo’s David in the Piazza dell a Signoria, Florence and wonders how anyone viewing it could not “be captivated by the beauty of the archetypal Italian male”?

True enough! But I must remind the author that the original David lived not a thousand miles from where I sit writing this in western Galilee and where all the ingredients for an Israeli style tomato-bread salad with za’atar vinaigrette are easily available. I invite her to visit and would be delighted to host her to some nosh accompanied by a splash of our favourite local merlot!

This new book is her second in a series of short food memoirs, the first being based on her aunt’s ‘hot pink kugel’ Oy!

** The Kindle edition of Bread Salad and Italian Men: A 60’s Food Memory by Marjorie Harris is presently available  for free download at Amazon.

© Natalie Wood (24 June 2017)

Monday, 5 June 2017

Not Just a Matter of Life and Death …!

Among the many literary and book review sites with which I’m registered is which recently invited me to critique a short story, ** Matter of Life and Death.

Matterof Life and DeathTo detail the plot would be to write a spoiler. So I’ll just say that both website and author, Brian Tate  class his story as ‘deeply philosophical literary fiction’ and that the end pages include prompts for group discussions along with an invitation to enter an essay contest based on its theme.

There are regular debates among writers and publishers as to the nature of ‘literary’ versus ‘genre’ fiction.

I illustrate with a couple of web links:

Mr Tate is offering very generous quarterly prizes for his competition but I feel he needs to examine his own work more closely before he judges that of others.

** Matter Of Life And Death is available from Amazon on Kindle ($0.99); Paperback ($3.59) and Audio ($3.95).

© Natalie Wood (05 June 2017)

Friday, 26 May 2017

Manchester Measures the Diameter of Its Bomb

The Diameter Of The Bomb


The diameter of the bomb was thirty centimeters

and the diameter of its effective range about seven meters,

with four dead and eleven wounded.

And around these, in a larger circle

of pain and time, two hospitals are scattered

and one graveyard. But the young woman

who was buried in the city she came from,

at a distance of more than a hundred kilometers,

enlarges the circle considerably,

and the solitary man mourning her death

at the distant shores of a country far across the sea

includes the entire world in the circle.

And I won’t even mention the crying of orphans

that reaches up to the throne of God and

beyond, making a circle with no end and no God.

(by Yehuda Amichai, one of Israel’s most esteemed poets)

Ariana GrandeThe bomb that ripped through the foyer at the Manchester Arena on Monday night somehow turned Amichai’s clinical analysis upside-down.

This time, the circle of life and death tightened, skewed and then reversed, leaving young parents without children; a future generation half-wiped out before it had quite begun.

What sort of villain would do this?

I’ll tell you:

This atrocity, I swear, was north west England’s own May-time Ma’alot massacre, whose quite eerie similarity in dates and statistics saw 25 hostages, including 22 children killed and a further 68 people injured.

While the circumstances of what happened in Manchester this week and those in Israel during spring 1974 were quite different, the consequences were wickedly familiar. The following year, for example, a commission of enquiry noted that many mistakes had been made by the authorities and recommendations for improvement were made.

Forty-three years on, I suggest that all public buildings in the U.K., including entertainment venues, install electronic screening for anyone entering or leaving the premises until every non-employee has vacated after a performance. Such a rule should be applied strictly to all involved, no matter their fame and importance.

I have spurred some public debate about singer Ariana Grande’s hasty return to the US after the explosion. While I consider the 23-year-old’s behaviour immature, selfish and irresponsible, others say she was traumatised and probably took advice from her ‘handlers’ and her terrified family. But she is an adult, more than old enough to be a mother, to make decisions for herself and to be answerable for her actions.

Even less worthy was her alleged offer to pay for the murder victims’ funerals. How easy it seems for the wealthy to cure the world’s ills by raining golden pennies on its bruises. Anyone who has been bereaved anyhow –that must be nearly everyone reading this – knows too well that burying the dead only starts the grieving process. This burden, too often something beyond dreadful, may last a mourner’s own lifetime.

While I accept my view is unpopular, I still insist that the star could instead have increased her personal security team and then visited the bereaved and injured before her departure. Instead, the duty was performed by HM Queen Elizabeth II, still performing with ineffable grace and composure aged 91.

As an expat Mancunian now living in Israel, I conclude this short piece by offering sincerest condolences to the bereaved and hopes for the speediest possible recovery to all  those injured.

© Natalie Wood (26 May 2017)


Friday, 19 May 2017

Of This Food Is Coral Made?

Of This Food Is Coral Made?: Deep down, very deep down among the kale, lovage and sorrel at our fruit and vegetable market here in Karmiel, Galilee, I thought I had foun...

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Israeli Minister’s Yom Yerushalayim Scene Stealer!

Miri Regev (Eli Sabati)Not universally popular either in Israel or the general Jewish world, Miri Regev, Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sport has stunned visitors to the current Cannes Film Festival with her choice of gown.
The politically-charged ‘conceptual’ frock, designed by fellow Israeli Arik Aviad Herman, features a fabric frieze on its voluminous skirt showing contentious Jerusalem sites including the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall.
The choice was most astute, not only because next week sees celebrations for Jerusalem Day and the start of events marking the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War, but because the famed cinema fest is a haven for the sort radical left-wingers who love to hate the Jewish state.
And continuing a rare flow of good Israeli news, former British Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Lord Sacks has produced What Jerusalem Means to Me an eloquent, elegiac video clip proving conclusively that Jews’ historic association with the holy city far pre-dates that of Judaism’s sister monotheistic faiths.
Last, but perhaps even more important as a resource for Israel supporters is Jerusalem, One Nation’s Capital Throughout History, a 24-page online booklet, by Eli E. Hertz whose contents range from Jerusalem’s Jewish link as against Islam’s tenuous connection to the city and on to its rocky relationship with the United Nations.
© Natalie Wood (18 May 2017)

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Spiritual Fires of Meron

Night Tales of Meron Mountain“If Jerusalem is the heart of our people”, writes Gittel Marcus “then the Galilee is the imagination. The fires of Meron travel from mountain top to mountain top throughout the land, just like in times of old.”

So concludes the first chapter of her collection, Night Tales of Meron Mountain,** a magical mix of stories for young people based on the lives and deeds of Jewish heroes of antiquity - and several contemporary characters of her invention.

I must own a personal interest in the author and her book as Meron is a small village not far from where we first met in Karmiel, western  Galilee, Israel. It is the largest town in the area and where, she points out, many modern Meron residents work, study and shop.

As the US-born author includes an extensive bibliography and explanatory notes, the book should appeal both to religious Jewish families and those non-Jewish teachers and their students wishing to learn more about the background to Orthodox Judaism and a little of the lives of its Israeli adherents.  Gittel Marcus

**Night Tales of Meron Mountain is available from Amazon on Kindle @ $3.99 and in Paperback @ $7.50.

© Natalie Wood (05 May 2017)

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

PerfectlyWriteFamilyTales: Just Nippon Out for a Banana!

PerfectlyWriteFamilyTales: Just Nippon Out for a Banana!:   Mr Martin Pavelka knows it's important to have a banana. Do You? In  my sagacious opinion, both Mr Pavelka and Telegraph Travel s...