What Is… Shawarma?

Turkey Shawarma Roasting on a vertical spit. Fun Joel. Israel Tour Guide.

Look at that succulent roasting meat on a spit. Yummmm...

I love food. I love eating it and I love cooking it. Most people would consider me a “foodie.” And Israel has so much amazing food that it is a foodie’s dream country.

That’s one of the reasons why Israeli culinary tourism is one of the niche areas I’ve been developing for myself, in addition to the general tourism that most people want. Winery and brewery tours, visits to other boutique food production facilities, guided tours of shuks (outdoor markets), trips to agricultural installations (both current and historic) and of course meals in some top-notch restaurants. Any of these options can contribute to a specially designed culinary tour, or worked into a general itinerary for a little spice.

But my approach to food and the foodie mentality is not snobbish. To appreciate the culinary offerings of a country, one must often look at the meals of the common man. Working-class restaurants and street foods are among the truest culinary delights that most cuisines have to offer. And this is no more true than here in Israel. Which brings me to this specific post.

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What Is… A Pillbox?

Pillbox Bunker. Jerusalem. Israel. Derech Hevron. British Mandate.

British Pillbox Bunker in Jerusalem, on the corner of Derech Hevron and Asher Viner

Now I know some of you are seeing the title of this post and thinking, “Isn’t it just something you put pills into?” And right you are, moreso than you know. Because while I am referring to a modern architectural feature all over the land of Israel, the pillboxes I am talking about also relate to what you’d see at a pharmacy. The pillboxes I’m talking about though are British pillboxes — military bunkers which you are sure to encounter on virtually any tour of Israel.

And while I am describing pillboxes, I’ll also tell you about another related structure from the same era that similarly dots this country: the Tegart fortress.

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What Is… A Cistern?

Not just a hole in the ground. A cistern opening on Givat Oz, in Gush Etzion.

With this post today, I am inaugurating a new feature on the blog. I decided to begin writing a series of short posts that define terms and ideas that come up frequently while touring Israel. Some are unique to this country, others are universal. But I figured it would be a good reference. To see all of the entries in this “lexicon” in the future, you will be able to simply click on the category. I am going to be adding the category to a previous post that I think fits in nicely as well.

That being said, on to this post’s topic: cisterns!

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What’s a Tell?

Tel Beit Shemesh

No, I’m not talking about a poker tell. I’m talking about the kinds of tells that you hear about whenever your travel to Israel (or other parts of the Middle East). Tel Arad, Tel Be’er Sheva or Tel Maresha, for example.

(By the way, you may have noticed the change in spelling from “tell” to “tel.” If so, 10 points for you. More on that distinction later!)

So, what is a tell, anyway?

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