Sketching Out Blog: Sketches of art, watercolor, photos, recipes, books, interviews, Jewish topics, and Highland Park, New Jersey

In Search of Brown Rice

I like brown rice. When I am home, I eat it every other day or so. I grew up eating white rice; I didn’t even know brown rice existed. My relationship with brown rice started when my mother, z”l, of blessed memory, got sick. I was introduced to brown rice for health reasons, but it became part of my routine because I like the stuff. And it likes me, meaning it’s easy on my digestive system (I can’t say the same for homemade challah, one of my favorite foods, that stuffs me up).

So after being in Israel for almost a week, I still hadn’t eaten any brown rice. There are so many culinary delights to sample in Israel, that I wasn’t thinking much about the lack of brown rice. But it’s lunch time, we are in a little square in the old city section of Tsefat, and what do I see:
brown riceorez maleh
The Hebrew on the right is pretty much a translation of the English on the left. For example, there’s this long word there which says ‘sanvichim’ (I’m going to let someone who doesn’t know Hebrew guess what that means). Basically, the way to say “brown rice” is “rice full”. Because that’s really what brown rice is, full rice: they haven’t yet stripped it of its nutrients.

Not that I learned how to say brown rice in Hebrew while I was in Israel. The woman behind the counter spoke a heavily British-accented Hebrew, so I knew it would be more than OK to make our requests in English. Here’s the simple dish that my husband and I enjoyed:
brown rice with veggies
Now, you might be thinking, wait, she’s got those three kids with her. Do you mean to tell me she convinced her three kids to eat that stuff?

Have no fear, ladies and gents, for in the same square, adjoining the Tree of Life restaurant, was this little food stand (click so you can read the signs):pizza in Tsefat

And my kids enjoyed a familiar food they ate a lot in Israel: pizza. The variety of pizza they sampled on our journey was of varying quality, with this pizza being one of the better ones. The same stand also had fresh squeezed orange juice, and my son helped the young man with the long hair (long hair seems to be in vogue among twentyish young men in Israel; I wonder if it’s a reaction to the army) squeeze out some delicious juice with an old-fashioned juicer.

My next opportunity to enjoy brown rice in Israel came towards the end of our trip, when we visited Jerusalem. My children had the audacity to want to eat at a kosher Burger King, and I happily stumbled upon the Village Green when they were done with their burgers and fries. The Village Green had been recommended to me by a Highland Park friend who visits Israel often (more often than I do, anyway). When you’ve been eating out for close to two weeks, it is fun to be able to choose your food in this sort of display:
Village Green, Jerusalem

We ate at the Village Green twice because we liked it so much. My husband preferred this food to some of the saucier, fancier food we ate elsewhere. Here’s what I ate on my second visit:
Village Green food with cookie
Can you guess what kind of cookie is pictured in this photo? If you look carefully at the placemat, you’ll see the address of the restaurant: 33 Rechov Yaffo (Rechov means “street”).

Do you like brown rice? Or would you choose something different from one of these menus?

Tamara says

Hi there,

I really enjoyed your post on the regular things we all deal with when traveling. Sure, you could have shown the Kotel, or the Dead Sea, or Masada, but what you have shown is PERFECT.

My father was JUST in Israel for the first time and his only complaint was the food. I'm convinced the tour company he was with didn't bring him to places like Village Green.

Thanks for sharing.

Ilana-Davita says

Very mouth-watering.

Baila says

I love brown rice. It's one of the things my kids eat regularly because I made the switch from brown to white when they were very young.

Leora says

Tamara, welcome, and thanks for convincing me that our self-made tour (it was my 5th time in Israel, and my husband lived in Israel for 3 years) was a good idea.

Ilana-Davita, glad you enjoyed.

Baila, my Eldest son still prefers white rice. And my daughter doesn't like rice, period. So having them grow up with brown rice hasn't helped. Though my middle one has been known to gobble down much of the stuff.

hihorosie says

I love brown rice, didn't use to though. Growing up it was always white rice too but my dad loved brown rice and I couldn't understand why he liked the stuff. I'm not sure when I began liking brown rice but I'm sure it was as an adult, maybe over the last 5 years or so? Anyway, now I find it quite tasty! In fact, just found a big bag of organic brown rice at Costco recently so I can make some for my lunches (my lunches at work aren't always raw).

Batya says

I like brown rice, or red, better than white. Isn't the food in Israel great?!

Leora says

>Isn’t the food in Israel great?!
Yes, for the most part. We certainly enjoyed the food we sampled. I have to say the Asian restaurant we went to off Emek Rafaim Street wasn't as good as it could be; no brown rice and too saucy, not enough green vegetables. But my Eldest son, who is picky, picky, thought it was quite tasty.

June says

The food actually looks pretty good. I love any type of rice, but have been trying to stick with brown and/or wild rice of late. As time passes, I'm losing my childhood preference for fluffy white swimming in butter.

phyllis says

i absolutely love the Village Green, it is my favorite restaurant anywhere in the world. when i read your opening line about brown rice, my first thought was, i hope she made it to the village green! and now there is a "burgersbar" restaurant right across the street, perfect for my meat-eating brother to go to while i grabbed a meal there. love it. i actually could eat brown rice every day.

Lion of Zion says

i buy brown rice and pasta for the house, but it really doesn't taste as good as the white stuff. no matter what you do with it.

tree of life seems unusual. usually in israel these stores sell either pizza or falafel, not both. (only in america is it standard to sell them together, which i never understood as most kosher pizzerias here are israeli)

on our last trip (2 years ago) i noticed a lot of those fresh juice vendors. it seemed to be someting new. we bought a lot of orange juice.

"long hair seems to be in vogue among twentyish young men in Israel; I wonder if it’s a reaction to the army"

i'm sure it is. but it also seems that israeli guys like to look like girls sometimes. (e.g., with the really tight clothing.) but not that i'm one to talk about long hair.

i really miss eating out in israel.

The Urban Buddha says

Wow I am hungry now!! That food looks so delicious! :) Mmmm!
Thanks for visiting my blog and the beer can art. We did notice those guys and we thought they were working on the sculptures.. although they didnt seem to get much work done.. ;o) Have a great day!

Leora says

June wrote: "fluffy white swimming in butter"
Mmmm, yeah, that does sound good, too.

Phyllis, there was another place in Jerusalem a friend told me about, but the truth is, we were only in Jerusalem for three days, how many places can you go! My kids experienced a Burger Bar in the Old City. In comparison, my Eldest son preferred Burger King (someone thought maybe because of all the salt they use).

Lion of Zion, I really do prefer the brown rice now. Especially if it's prepared well.

My cousin said his third son has lots of long-haired friends. I saw "third son"'s wedding video, and then I really began to notice all the long-haired men.

Urban Buddha, glad you enjoyed my food pics. I got more...
I'm spacing them out over the summer.

Sara says

My mouth is watering....I want some falafel!!

I see that long word you mention (looks like sandvitzim to me but my Hebrew is very rusty)..."sandwiches" of course.

I had fun trying to read the Hebrew...

You've inspired me to buy some brown rice...I do like it and my dh loves it and it's good for us too. But I also love white rice (medium grain) with a teaspoon of chicken broth granules added during the cooking....even better than butter!

Leora says

Sara, you may notice there's a little "chupchik" or accent mark on top of the tsadee (צ). That converts the tsadee from a "ts" sound to a "ch" sound, a sound not found in conventional Hebrew. A similar conversion happens when you add an accent to a gimel(ג), you get a "j".


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