Relaxed hospitality.

I really enjoy Israeli ideas of hospitality (even if I’ve yet to practice them much from the other side . . .). Lunch today was a perfect example.

First, there are drinks — generally juice and water — before the meal, while the food finishes cooking.

Next, everyone sits down for the main meal, which usually features meat but in a supporting role, and includes at least one good salad. For example, today there was a kind of picadillo with ground turkey and summer squash, boiled peeled potatoes, a salad with chopped tomatoes and lettuce in vinaigrette, and a salad with small-diced cucumber, mint, and cooked whole grains in vinaigrette. All were delicious.

After the meal, there’s dessert. Today was ice cream (raspberry swirl) and fruit (watermelon pieces), which is also typical.

After dessert comes coffee or tea, little cookies to nibble (today’s were homemade miniature bars with chocolate, walnuts, and marmalade over pastry), and conversation.

If one is willing to assume that all the desserts and drinks are storebought, then it’s not actually that much work: prepping the main course beforehand, making the salads and starch in the half hour before serving, and preparing hot drinks while everyone relaxes after dessert. Nor is it overly expensive, given the cheap cost of fresh produce here in Israel. The result is really lovely, though: a relaxed, extended meal with good, healthy food and congenial conversation. Honestly, it makes me wish I had more chances to be a hostess. Which is entirely up to me!