So for a bit of perspective, my husband directed me today to this article in Maariv's website, www.nrg.co.il. The author (Nofar Chaimovitch) writes a column about living as an Israeli in NYC, and the article's title translates to "The Things You Won't Find in America." The article's first two paragraphs say it all about the Israeli attitude towards America, really. Here's my rough translation (please correct me if I get any parts wrong):
There is no doubt that America contains many good things. After all, it's America-- the country of capitalism and free enterprise. Every good idea is enough to turn an ordinary person into a millionaire, and everything here is big and beautiful and new and innovative and sophisticated-- but nonetheless, some things are lacking in America.Here's the list of things missing in America:
And true, it is possible to find these things in your local Israeli supermarket or specialty shops not far from Manhattan, but not in your neighborhood store. So we, the Israelis living in America, have to convince family and friends to send us what we crave or even to bring it with them (yes, it's legal). So here's a list of a few basic things that are missing here [in America].
- Scotch Brite. From the article: "Just as Americans don't know how to wash floors, so they don't know to use Stotch Brite when they wash dishes. Basically, Americans have too much water-- so they put all the dishes in a full sink of water and wash them with a different kind of brush. ..." Personally, Scotch Brite looks to me like just another scrubber that DOES exist in America... can anyone enlighten me? Is this something I should be using?
- Floor Rags. I find this one really entertaining because one of my earliest blog posts dealt with the difficulty of using Israeli floor rags to mop the floor. Apparently, the author thought it was hillarious that a friend of her parents who had moved to New York City in the 70s asked her to bring floor rags with her when she came to America... until she arrived in the US and discovered, to her shock and horror, that "in the 21st century, there are no floor rags in America and Americans still think that to pass a dry mop over the floor is considered cleaning."
- Laundry. What the author really means is that laundry detergent powder is almost impossible to find in America... however, she actually decided that she likes liquid detergent. I remember trying to wash my clothes when I came to Israel for the first time during college, and being utterly unable to find detergent in the grocery store. I was looking for liquid! The author also talks about needing to bring her laundry to a laundromat-- almost every Israeli apartment contains at least a hook-up for a washing machine. (You often bring your own washing machine with you when you move.)
- Bamba. For the uninitiated, "Bamba" is essentially peanut-flavored Cheetos. And I agree with the author here-- it's kind of bizarre that Americans "spread peanut butter on every existing thing, including cookies and chocolate and sandwiches with jam" but are disgusted by Bamba. I wonder the opposite, though-- how can Israelis love Bamba and not be into PB & J?
- Chocolate Milk in a Bag. (See picture at the top of the post.) Ok, this is just one of those Israeli things that my husband remembers with great joy from his childhood... and that I just don't get. But yes, you can buy chocolate milk in little bags here. (In fact, we buy milk in bags in general-- I should post about that some time!) "Shoko beSakit" (Chocolate [milk] in a Bag) is a bit like a juice box, except that instead of using a straw, you simply bite or cut the corner off the bag and kind of pour it into your mouth. It's an art.
- "Mekupelet." This is a kind of Israeli chocolate bar (called "folded" because of its wrinkly texture), and I have to admit that I don't like them very much. To me, they taste like what happens when you leave chocolate in the sun too long and it melts and then re-hardens. And they look like... er... never mind. But according to this ex-pat Israeli, "There's no denying that mekupelet is one of the most brilliant inventions that there is."
- A4 paper. Yup, the 8 1/2 by 11 inch printer paper we use in America doesn't exist in Israel... and the Israeli (probably international) A4 paper size is hard to find in the US. I finally caught on to this one after a few months of wondering why there would be white space and cut-off margins when I printed here. If you're curious, an A4 page is 8.27 by 11.69 inches. As Nofar says, "America has to be special."
- Canned mushrooms. (By the way, I'll admit to cheating with the help of Google Translator to help me understand this page, and according to Google Translator, this entry is about "A box of mushrooms Gambling." But trust me, we don't have gambling mushrooms in Israel.) Is this really true, though? You don't have canned mushrooms in America? It took Nofar months to find canned mushrooms, but I seem to remember seeing them in Giant Eagle. Of course, there probably wasn't a whole end-of-aisle display of canned mushrooms as there are in our supermarkets here.
- Daxemol. This is a kind of pain killer/fever reducer/cold remedy available only in Israel. I have to laugh when I read this and remember all the panicked e-mails on the Nefesh b'Nefesh list-serve: "What?? There's no Tylonel in Israel??" True, but there's also no Daxemol in the US!
- Vegetable peelers. Ok, I'm mystified by this one, because I definitely did use vegetable peelers in the US. But according to Nofar, American peelers rust in two weeks and don't work nearly as well. Plus, if you go to look at the picture in Nofar's article, you'll see that Israeli vegetable peelers are a different shape than your average American peeler-- and I'll agree that they work much better.
- Cotton wool. In Israel, you can buy a bag of cotton-- not cotton pads, not cotton balls, not pretty little square cotton makeup removers, but just a bag of cotton that you can tear off and use as you wish. And that's the kind of thing Israelis miss in America.
So if you really want to be Israeli but still live in the US, start grousing about the quality of American vegetable peelers!