This is a story about food and marriage, and a very special place in Jerusalem. It is a story in three parts — the first two written more than three decades ago, the third written only last month.
It was April 23, 1980, precisely one month after my husband, Mark Berger, and I were married in New York — and we wanted to celebrate. We were renting a room in a cold flat on Rehov Herzog in Jerusalem, living on savings while he finished his American medical school training with a rotation at Shaare Zedek Hospital and I studied Hebrew and wrote freelance stories — our chance to live in Israel for a few months together.
This is back when dining out in Jerusalem meant overcooked schnitzel or Arab street food, but we were told of a fancy French restaurant at Mishkenot Sha’ananim, next to the famous windmill at Yemin Moshe, so we decided to splurge. Within reason. We’d forgo the wine and the extras for the pleasure of dining with an unparalleled view of the Old City and for our first opportunity as a married couple in our mid-20s to feel like proper grownups.
The view did not disappoint, but as soon as we opened the menu and saw the prices, our delusions of adulthood melted faster than ice cream in the Negev. We decided we could afford only to order an entrée each and share an appetizer.
This was also a time when the servers in Israel had all the charm of the impatient men who would throw pickles on the table at a Lower East Side deli and ignore you for the next hour.
Yayin? No, no wine.
Salat? No salad.
I swear she snickered.
And one appetizer, please. Rak echad?