Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Krembos or Crembos, The Taste of "Old Israel"

Yaaqov has called us to a "Krembo Challenge."  He, of the scientific transliteration, spells them with a "K," but I've always pictured them spelled with a "C."  Just look at that "crembo," it looks like a "c word."  It's not lanky and graceful enough to even be associated with the leggy "K."

Crembos were the traditional winter ice cream treat here in Israel.  They satisfied the need for something sweet and soft to serve for dessert.  In the early days here in Israel, you couldn't find ice cream during the winter months.  It was a "seasonal sweet."

For an almost tropical country, Israel was rather late to get proper electric refrigerators.  Ice for iceboxes were still being delivered into the 1960's when many Israelis got their own first modern electric refrigerators.  Refrigerated trucks were only introduced thirty-plus years ago.  I really get a kick out of the Israeli "cottage cheese" demonstrations this summer, claiming that cottage cheese is an Israeli staple, not a luxury.  When we made aliyah in 1970, it was a luxury, and it spoiled in a couple of days.  The standard soft cheese was a white cheese that tasted spoiled, even when fresh, so it suited the primitive refrigeration of the time here.  Israeli dairy products used to be very natural without all of the chemicals which keep them "fresh" for well over a week.  When you had a small refrigerator at best, you shopped daily, so it didn't matter that the food only kept a couple of days.

Back to crembos...
I can't remember the last time I ate a crembo.  It was probably decades ago.  We were never great crembo fans.  They didn't tempt me after that first taste.  They're overly sweet, unless the flavors have been adjusted.  My kids, at least the eldest, absolutely hated them and never asked for them.  I also didn't have to make winter birthday parties, until my youngest was born, and by then there were other treat options.

When we came back from our two years shlichut youth work in England, our eldest was in the First Grade.  One day she came back home from school miserable and coated with a sticky mess.  There had been a party, and crembos were served.  She couldn't get herself to eat it and (paper napkins were rare luxury items) couldn't neatly dispose of the nauseating mess.

I don't know if this is the type of post Yaaqov was hoping for, but not everyone likes crembos.


rutimizrachi said...

This post is proof that you should write a book about your reminiscences of the "olden days" when you made aliyah. Your delightful imagery is a good reminder to people contemplating aliyah now that it is a much easier (if perhaps less picturesque) project than it used to be.

Batya said...

Thanks Ruti, would anyone really buy it? ps 41 years does sound like a long time...

Hadassa said...

I haven't had a crembo (I prefer the American "c" as is "cream", although Ya'akov is etymologically correct with "krembo", which looks normal to those whose native language spells krem with a "k".) in a long time either. The ones I've tasted have all had a gross artificial taste. A small square of chocolate is definitely preferable to a huge crembo, to everyone in our household.

Batya said...

If I want/need some sweet "energy" I prefer my homemade halva. Crembo isn't on the wishlist.

Miriam said...

Batya, sweet blog!

Krembos fall in the same category as white cheese. Both are Israeli staples.

Israelis love their white cheese, and Israelis love their KREMBOS.

My grandchildren would do almost anything for a krembo treat...but usually they are reserved as a Shabbat afternoon treat.

For me, there is nothing more satisfying than a square of dark chocolate.....Yum!


Batya said...

Miriam, glad you liked the post. I'm sure your kids always liked crembos or the grandkids wouldn't like them.