"Mangal" is the Hebrew word for "Barbeque," which always struck me as a little funny-- mangled meat roasting on a grill. However, "mangal" in Israel is a national pastime, and a very integral part of days off, going to parks, Saturday afternoons, what have you. Israel on the weekend smells like barbequeing Kababs (sausages), chicken, steaks. And it isn't Yom HaAtzmaut without some mangal, as well as the International Bible Quiz championship... which is kind of like the National Spelling Bee, only in Hebrew and about obscure portions of the Tanach.
We celebrated Yom HaAtzmaut yesterday at my husband's aunt and uncle's house. My husband's aunt (a good Polish mother) prepared about 500 types of salads--several involving eggplant and none involving lettuce. His uncle (a Romanian grilling master) cooked chicken breasts, kababs, spicy sausage, chicken hearts, a curious concoction of animal innards wrapped in foil, and more (the "more" involving what is delicately known as "basar acher"-- as in, the other white meat... oy... we didn't partake). And then about 12 kinds of cakes for dessert. Altogether, we passed out from calorie overdose after we came home from the barbeque... and I didn't get a chance to post yesterday. I think my brain is still swimming from the rush of sugar and protein.
I was just talking on the phone to another member of the Olim Omrim blog, btw, about how Independence Day in Israel is a much bigger deal than Independence Day in the US. On July 4th in the US you maybe grill, maybe go see fire works, maybe have a picnic... but here we have dancing, singing, concerts, speeches, candle-lighting, fireworks, parties. Then I realized that this reminded me of the description of Independence Day celebrations back in the wonderful "Little House Book" series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Back in the 1800s US pioneer life, independence still meant something. Here, too, we know that independence can't be taken for granted and should be celebrated to the utmost.
Happy Yom HaAtzmaut (a day late)!