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‘Israeli Salad’

March 27, 2012
By Wendy Monro , Simply Food

We are two days away from a trip to England. We cannot wait to hug and kiss all of our family and friends. I cannot stop thinking about all of the food I will be eating. England has such amazing food in their restaurants. You wouldn't believe all of the incredible international restaurants, which serve delicious food. Most people wouldn't think of incredible food when they think about the England experience. In my opinion, they would be wrong.

I long to have the best Indian food ever. Yes, Indian food is excellent in England. I have never had korma they way they make it at Moonlight in Hungerford. My mouth is literally watering as I write this. I am also so thrilled to eat fish and chips in Dorset. The tiny stands on the waterfront in Dorset serve the world's finest fish and chips. I smother them in malt vinegar and let the fries (chips) get soggy. Oh, now I am getting hungry. I cannot forget that England is home to my favorite pizza place, Pizza Express. Pizza Express cooks the best pizza I have eaten, although I still haven't been to Italy. Then, to make it the whole trip so incredibly special, our close friends, Ned and Sage, have opened not one but two Mexican restaurants in London.

I am spending a lot more time writing about the food I will eat and not the people we will see. This isn't because I am not so excited to see everyone over thereI really am. I swear!

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Israeli Salad

I just cannot help being excited about the food too. I have been obsessing for the past week or so about all of this amazing food I will be eating in England. I even visit sites in each of the towns we will visit to see if there are any new restaurants or pubs we should visit and try out. I have a list of more restaurants than we will ever be able to sample. We could try five meals a day. That's possible, right? Of course it is. I will post pictures of all of this food and more on my www.facebook.com/simplyfoodify page. So, "like" it if you want to see what we are eating. I might put a few family members in the photos too, as long as they are eating something tasty.

All of this talk about foods around the world reminded me of Al's salad. Long ago, in what seems like another life, we hung out with a friend named Al. Al was short for a much longer, difficult to pronounce, name. We met him in a cowboy bar in a small town in Acton, California. Acton is an interesting place. It is about a forty-five minute drive from Hollywood. Many movies are filmed in this little town. I believe it is an ideal location for many movies because it still has that old fashioned western look to it. The local bar was called the 49er Saloon. Patrons walked through saloon doors to enter. Every Friday night was karaoke night. The same people were always there and chose the same songs to sing every week. My regular song was Shania Twain's "You're Still The One". I would look straight at Claud and sing it right to him. We had so much fun hanging out at the 49er.

We met Al on one of these Friday karaoke nights at the 49er Saloon. He and a man called Cowboy rode their horses into town and tied them up to the hitching posts outside the bar. Cowboy's horse was also named Cowboy. Al and Cowboy were quite the pair of bachelors. Al was from Israel. He had long wavy blonde hair and blue eyes. He always wore a big cowboy hat and cowboy boots. Cowboy was taller and had brown short hair. He wore Wranglers and a big belt buckle. They always flirted with every girl who crossed their path. Claud and I became friends with them instantly.

Fact Box

Recipe:

2 cucumbers, skinned and cut into small cubes

2 tomatoes, cut into small cubes

4 scallions, chopped

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil (optional)

juice of 4 limes

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together. Best served chilled.

Al had a weekly grill out at his ranch. We went to many of these. Cowboy was always there. Different girls came and went. Al always cooked the same meal. First, he grilled some amazing chicken. Then, Al always made the same salad. Al's salad was my favorite part of the meal. It is light and tangy. Sometimes, I would just eat the salad and nothing else. One day, I asked if I could come over early and help him make it so I would learn the recipe. Of course, he said yes. The salad was so simple to make. The most difficult part is cutting everything into tiny cubes. Other than that, it's a piece of cake.

I have been calling it Al's salad for years. It has been eleven years since I first tasted this salad at Al's ranch. Since then, every time I make it I tell people it is "Al's Salad" or "Israeli Cowboy Salad". Just this week, I made a batch for my friend in the neighborhood. I told her it is Israeli Cowboy Salad. She said, "Yes, this is Israeli Salad." She had eaten it many times before. What? It's actually called Israeli Salad? I never knew that. I really thought Al invented it. So, when I got home that night, I Googled it. It is a real thing. Turns out, Israeli Salad is served all of the time in Israel. Who knew? It is perfect for a light meal or as an accompaniment to a grill out. It is traditionally made with olive oil. However, this can easily be eliminated or you could use less for a much lighter, heart healthier, and lower calorie salad.

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