Friday, November 16, 2012

The best laid plans

This was the plan: Tel-Aviv-Madrid, Madrid-London, London-New York. It wasn’t a great plan, as travel plans go, but when you buy a ticket on miles you gotta take what you’re given. There was general chaos at Ben Gurion when I arrived at 3 am. Well, Ben Gurion is generally chaotic. When I reached the Iberia counter to check in, I began to hear the word strike being thrown around by my fellow passengers. The lady at the counter, who managed to be both aggressive and apathetic all at the same time, vehemently insisted that I wouldn’t be affected. She also refused to give me any details. This was the first I’d heard of any strike, and I had no idea if it was upcoming, ongoing or past. The last thing I wanted to do was to get stuck in Spain. London, sure- I wouldn’t mind some time in London. I know people there. I speak the language. I could easily figure out where to procure Kosher food. Madrid, on the other hand, was not so enticing. My Spanish is pretty minimal- I learned it from Sesame Street after all.  I know nobody in Spain and the Spanish, having expelled the Jews and Muslims in 1492, have proceeded to make pig their national dish, which makes finding Kosher food in Spain phenomenally difficult. There at the check-in counter in Ben Gurion I was having nightmarish visions of days stuck in an airport with nothing to eat but the food I had packed, Snickers bars and Coke.
I made it to Madrid. My flight to London was indeed canceled, but the very sweet and competent woman at the counter found me a seat on the Madrid-New York flight later that afternoon, leaving me with five hours to wander around the airport. And this how I have come to be writing this blog post, sitting on the floor of the U terminal in the Madrid airport, slightly delirious (2 hours of sleep in the past 32 hours. Yeah, not so much with the functioning) and very, very glad for my 3 sandwiches, 2 chocolate bars, 1 apple, 1 clementine, bag of granola, and bag of homemade trail-mix. Because while the very nice lady told me that she would try to get me Kosher food, I have high doubts about that actually happening (she also told me that my luggage would get on to the flight. I can count on my hand the number of times I have arrived at my destination at the same time as my luggage. The luggage gods hate me. Not holding my breath for that one either.) And while that amount of food is not enough to last me days of being stranded, it is quite enough to last me a 5 hour stopover + an 8 hour flight. My aunt will feed me when I arrive in New York, of that I am sure. (And then I am going straight to bed.)
Edit: I had Kosher food! And my luggage arrived! It's a Thanksgiving miracle. I am now in NY, doing New Yorky things. Soon I will be in Chicago.
I travel internationally quite a bit because I like seeing my parents, and my brother and sister-in-law and my five neicettes and my grandmother and my aunts and my cousins and my friends and because I like to see the world. Travel, when you keep Kosher, is not always straight forward. I have learned to carry a lot of food with me. I have also discovered that it’s best to pretend you are going on a hike. International travel is a long, bleary disgusting marathon of canned air and uncomfortable seats. It requires energy and non-perishable foods. And that’s why homemade trail-mix is a god send. For my trail-mix I use, raisins, Cheerios, dark chocolate and the clincher, David Lebovitz’s candied nuts. In his recipe, David uses peanuts, but because I am terrified of accidentally killing someone and because I like them, I use almonds. Almonds are cool.
So if you're traveling for Thanksgiving, I hope your travels go smoothly and safely. Happy trails. 


Adapted from David Lebovitz

2 cups raw almonds
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
a sprinkle of salt
dark chocolate, chopped

1. In  a wide, heavy skillet, mix together the nuts, sugar and water. Cook on medium, stirring frequently, until the liquid begins to seize up. It will take a bit of time. The nuts will start to become dry and sandy. Don't worry. Turn the heat to low and keep stirring. The "sand" will slowly begin to melt into a syrup. Keep turning and stirring the nuts until they are coated in the syrup. Be patient. When the nuts are fully coated and deeply roasted, remove from heat. Pour out onto a cookie to cool. Once cool break into small pieces.

2. Combine the almonds, Cheerios, raisins and chocolate. Travel.

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