My new friend Isabelle, who owns Lechem Vechaverim on Bograshov, the café where I go for coffee and a croissant every morning, is helping me. She’s a Paris-trained baker, which you can tell from her baguettes, which have a very satisfying crust. She tells me she imports the flour from France.
We talk about her croissants, which, if her baguettes are a 10, are a 9. I’m a fusspot about such matters, you may have gathered. She uses French butter to make them, and pulls a face at the idea of Israeli butter. Less fat, she tells me, although I don’t know how. I’ve heard pattisières discuss butter and its water content before, but Isabelle was adamant about the fat. Maybe it amounts to the same thing. Butter here, which Israelis don’t use very often,is very white, but I think we add turmeric to ours to make it yellow.
Isabelle has been living here a year, after bringing her children, now 20, 19 and 15, up in Paris while her husband, her second husband, not their father, lived in Tel Aviv. She came over every month to see him, he’d go there, they went on holiday together, they saw as much of each other as many married couples.
We talked about food this morning, because she’s a French baker and I’m me. We were in accord over the meat and cheese here, not a patch on Paris or London, but she likes the veg more than I do. She’s going to ask her husband to write down in Hebrew all the places I need to go to buy good produce so I can show the taxi driver. Or get a bike, she says, you must get a bike.
Today’s word: chemah – butter – חֶמאָה