It’s been 80 days since I was last here so that makes us 80 days into our new adventure. With almost three months to look back on, I can finally sigh out of relief. Sitting here from the sweetness of a predictable routine and a clear perspective , I look back on the first 6 weeks in our new country and qualify it as absolutely crazy. In the literal sense of the word. Setting up life for the kids, and us, furnishing an apartment, starting schools, melding into the culture, navigating the system, eating out more than is enjoyable, and spending more money than we care to, was taxing, exhausting and intense. Let’s not forget the daily tantrums from all four of them because they could just not handle one more store or errand or lollipop. But there were slivers of bliss. Like how Shlomo’s Falafel (it’s Shlomo, not Shmuel after all) tasted exactly how I remember even though the city had him close up his window-ordering situation and he transitioned into a typical fast food restaurant. Boo for regulations ruining the charm of old-school establishments. He even started making an intensely spicy s’chug out of homegrown chile peppers he’d smuggled from Brazil. That was my highlight. There was the comfort of walking through IKEA for its familiarity and finding everything we needed to furnish our space with some things on sale which was a nice bonus. The hug from my grandmother that was extra tight and her joy at seeing the little ones. There were homemade brownies and chocolate truffles from new neighbors. A surprise delivery of meat and produce to our door from someone anonymous that made us feel cared for and thought of. There was just more kindness than we were comfortable with but that made us feel truly at home.
Whenever someone learns we recently moved from LA, after their initial shock they ask about the kids. How are they doing? Though their transition has not been without challenges, it’s been going surprisingly well. They have built in play dates with the other few dozen kids in our building. Our efforts of speaking Hebrew with them have finally paid off and they’re thrilled with some of their newfound independence. They go to school mostly happily even though they need to work a little harder than everyone else. I should learn from their attitude and resilience.
Once we got slightly settled in, the holiday season showed up. It was everything we hoped for. We felt the momentous beginning of the New Year, the intensity of Yom Kippur, and the palpable joy and celebration of Sukkot along with everyone around us. The cadence of those three weeks was everything beautiful and worthwhile about living here. This sense of belonging and fraternity that is unique, at least from my perspective, to here. And so, here I am now, waving hello. I have lots of good things coming up for you but I thought I’d start with this Fried Egg with Feta, Roasted Fennel and Swiss Chard because during that frantic beginning all I craved was routine and that means eggs in the morning for me.
That pan roasted fennel is a must. Charring it in a skillet with a generous scoop of butter over high heat creates that burnt and blistered skin over the unexpected sweet flesh. It’s intensely flavorful and will not disappoint even those intense fennel haters I hear exist. I promise. The chard gets crispy from a little sauté and then finally the egg slides in for a quick fry. You put everything in a bowl and top it with feta, because I believe everything should be topped with feta, and it also contributes a creamy, salty component that works well.
Fried Egg with Feta, Roasted Fennel and Swiss Chard
1 large fennel bulb, cut in half and sliced
2 bunches swiss chard, stems cut off
3 tablespoons butter, divided.
2 teaspoons olive oil
3-4 slices feta cheese
sea salt and pepper
- Heat a large skillet over medium high. When you feel the heat from a few inches above the skillet, add 2 tablespoons butter. Once the butter melts, add the fennel, season generously with salt and pepper, and sauté well until fully cooked and the skin blisters, about 3-4 minutes, while constantly stirring it around. Transfer to a bowl.
- Add 1 tablespoon butter and sauté the swiss chard until wilted and crispy, about 2 minutes and transfer to the bowl with the fennel.
- Add the olive oil, heat for a few seconds and carefully slide the eggs into the pan. The high heat will cause some crackling and oil spritzing but that’s what gives the egg a crispy, brown bottom. Cook until the whites are set and the yolk is still runny, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to the bowl.
- Top with the feta cheese and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Enjoy.