Today's blogpost was written by Chelsea Andrews, a Yahel Social Change fellow living, learning and volunteering for 9-months in the city of Rishon LeZion.
It’s 10 p.m. on any given night and our kitchen transforms from a quiet, dimly lit space, to a room full of music, loud voices, clanking pots and pan, and sizzling oil.
It’s dinner time at Ariav, everyone’s come hungry, and curry is on the menu.
One of the first things I learned upon traveling to Israel was that cooking is more than the simple process of preparing food for consumption. Instead, it is an invitation for connection, a point in time where obligations and to-do lists come to a halt.
The informality of the kitchen is perhaps its central draw. It is a gathering point for different people at all times of the day, and one of those rare, not-to-be-taken-for-granted places where pyjamas are considered acceptable attire. It is a space where recipes are tried, favorite meals are discovered, wine is consumed by the gallon, and pizza is eaten for breakfast.
In the kitchen people drift in and out, spilling drinks and talking loudly. One friend is roasting vegetables for lunch & another is concocting the perfect vegan dessert. On the table there are freshly made blueberry muffins drizzled with honey and garnished with sweet pecans, next to scattered piles of orange peels, containers of rice & chicken from the night before, and an inevitable chocolate wrapper.
Or two. Or five.
The kitchen tells a messy story and that story is one of community.
But if I’m being completely honest, I haven’t always felt this way.
As someone who believes that coffee is a food group and hummus and carrots is a well-balanced meal, I think it’s fair to say that cooking is not my specialty. I’m a firm believer that any dish which requires more than 5 ingredients or a food processor, is too complicated and should certainly not be part of our day before 10 a.m. or maybe ever. I’ve often viewed the kitchen and cooking as a means to an end, rather than an invitation for connection. Living in Israel, however, has changed that.
I remember the Yahel staff telling us during orientation that they believe living with others is a central part of social change. Intuitively this made sense to me, but I knew I needed a bit more convincing.
After the first few weeks of rooming with 4 others in a small apartment, I came to realize that all the work we were preparing to do in the community was in many ways just as important as the relationships we were starting to build with each other, and both processes were in fact intimately connected.
Social change starts in the kitchen.
On an average night in our kitchen you can find us eating dinner, watching Harry Potter,
and dying hair all at the same time. (L to R: Adam, Chelsea, Rachel)
1 can coconut milk 2 tablespoons curry powder
1 can garbanzo beans 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium sized onion Salt and pepper
1-2 cups white rice 2-4 garlic cloves
To a large pan add the oil, garlic, and onion. Sauté over medium-high heat until the onion begins to soften. Stir intermittently for 5 minutes.
Add coconut milk and curry powder.
Reduce heat to medium and allow mixture to gently boil for 5 minutes.
Add garbanzo beans and season with salt and pepper.
Lower heat and let simmer for up to 30 minutes. (If you need to run to the corner store for wine, chocolate, or both—now is the time.)
Serve over a bed of warm rice.
Kayla was the first person in our home to make curry. This is her recipe. I’ve named it Ariav Curry for the simple fact that without it we would either eat falafel every day or starve.
If you want to make Kayla’s curry Adam-style, add cooked chicken with honey instead of garbanzo beans. Let the curry simmer for a long time and work on law school applications in between occasional stirs. Kanye West should be playing on volume HIGH.
If you want to make Kayla’s curry Chelsea-style, add roasted potatoes and replace rice with quinoa that has not been rinsed because a fine mesh sieve is clearly a LUXURY.