The problem of being a mother of three boys is that I get outvoted, each and every time.
“Who wants to go the biggest cave in Israel??”
“and crawl through guano for half the day? Uh, uh, not me.”
Israel is a democracy, the only one in the entire Middle East and our family respects this, four hands go up.
Et tu, dear husband?
Please note, this cave is not recommended for young children, especially not a three year old but because we are a wild and crazy family this is exactly what we do. It is quite exciting, even without skulls and I have never particularly liked spelunking.
I make it clear that after grunging it out in the cave we are going to visit my favorite Aunt Hadassa and Amos who live in the village of Shtula, on the border of Lebanon.
She is a fantastic cook and is always so hospitable that she makes everyone in comparison look like misers. They also own a chicken coop, no, not free range unfortunately but they always give me two loaded trays of double-yolk eggs after each visit. These are produced by young hens whose ovulation cycles have not yet synchronized.
Even without advance notice her table was filled with delicious foods- salads, kubba, stuffed eggplants and some very tasty stewed beef called Kalia. Kalia means fried and this is how this meat is prepared, by slowly frying chunks of fatty stewing meat, sometimes with onions for several hours so it becomes dark brown and succulent from the melted fat. This recipe is a remnant of the time before refrigeration when this technique was used to preserve meat for future use. To properly preserve the meat in this way, it has to be cut into very small pieces, fried slowly until the moisture is removed and finally salted and stored in clay pots. This minced meat is used to stuff kubba but this method is seldom used now.
After lunch we took a walk around this quiet village, it is so peaceful that it is hard to imagine that the second Lebanon war broke out right here with missiles flying over head. In view of my aunt’s house the security station was bombed as a decoy while two soldiers patrolling the border were attacked and kidnapped, starting the month long war. Amos, my Uncle, showed us a cave that he and his friends found many years ago in which he found clay oil lamps and coins from the Byzantine era within it. Nobody knows of this cave and the entrance is filled with gorgeous stalagmites and stalactites. Oh Oh, Looks like we will be heading back there, this time with ropes, flashlight, rappelling equipment……… but that’s our next adventure.