Dingy lighting, old-dirt encrusted tiling, and maybe a bright red shopping basket or two is what you are greeted with in the entrance. Upon taking a few steps to the left, you become well-acquainted with the gist of the rest of the store: you know, your average convenience store— with an Israeli twist. When you are a tourist in a new country, one of the most interesting and easy ways to investigate the culture is to go to a regular supermarket. This one is a bit one of a kind—since it just serves the purpose of supplying things here and there. It’s located in one of the main buildings of the Kibbutz I’m staying at.
There’s your average fruit aisle (a fan favorite) with dried “exotic” fruits like mango, figs, ginger, pineapple, papaya, and dates. This is probably the most important part of the Markolit since fruit is the cheapest and best in Israel—as far as I know from the whopping ten days I have called Israel my home. For instance, four oranges comes out to 0.5 shekels, or $0.14. These oranges are what you do not know you’re missing out on. It’s this crazy explosion of honey sort of sweetness and intense fresh flavor. I don’t know how else to describe them other than that they are the most orange-y oranges you will ever try. The same applies to other citruses like the lemons and limes the grow around the kibbutz. Believe it or not, but the lemons I have picked are actually sweet enough to eat plainly. Go further into the store and you’ll come across the second most significant part of the store: the chocolate covered everything area. This aisle is home to delicious chocolate covered hazelnuts, almonds, cranberries, raisins, etc, because all of these products are grown here. It’s a pretty interesting spectacle popping a chocolate covered almond in your mouth, while passing by almond trees on a hike here in the holy land. This little market isn’t much, but it’s staples speak volumes.
Next up, take a couple steps back out the door, maybe pass by one of the many wandering dogs, climb up the steps, and you’re in the dining hall. In Kibbutz Tzuba, the dining hall displays a wealth of salads: cucumber and tomato laden, as well as some mediocre hummus, and a few staples such as rice and couscous. To the right of this salad bar area is the heated food section which you can always count on for displaying a whole host of dishes including schnitzel, some sort of chicken and or beef dish, and potatoes in one shape or form. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner salad maintains its honorary place in the dining hall.
This is nothing but a precursor to the other culinary experiences Israel has to offer. Being on a kibbutz and going to classes is essentially being in a bubble, separated from the rich culture outside—ten minutes away in Jerusalem. There is much more to observe and taste, but the humble Markolit will always be my first culinary experience in Israel.