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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Barbecue Fish & Some Meat As Well

We just did a BBQ post, Grilled Chicken Pieces, but since today was Israel's Independence Day, known as "Yom Ha'Atzmaut" and since this year we did the traditional Israeli BBQ, well, why not? It is cooking is it not? So some of the kids got together, we trudged down from my house to the Valley Of The Cross, which is an extension of a Jerusalem's equivalent to "Central Park" which is called "Gan Saker" (not "Gan Soccer" as some think the name is!) and set up the good old BBQ.

Now any Israeli will tell you that trying to find an empty place to set up a BBQ in a park in the city, is an impossible deal. BUT, it happens to be that everyone gravitates to the grass in Gan Saker and few even walk the extra few minutes to the Valley Of The Cross which in itself is a large area full of meandering paths. I walk Rainbow there all the time, when I am trying to work out something in writing. She runs and romps, I talk to myself, and most people who see a frisky Golden Retriever with an owner who is mumbling to himself, keep a fair distance, and don't bother me! (See it pays to be crazy sometimes!)

So first a bit of geography & history. The Valley of the Cross is so-named after the Monastery of the Cross which resides there and was built originally in the 11th Century.

The Monastery of the Cross takes up a great deal of the Valley and its land is walled off and though the wall is small and can easily be climbed I have never seen anyone violate the borders of the Monastery. You can read up a bit on the history in Wikipedia and here is just a bit of history about the Monastery of the Cross.

Between the Rehavia district of Jerusalem and the Israel Museum is the Valley of the Cross. Out of the olive-trees in the valley, on Hayim Hazaz Boulevard, rises the massive fortress-like bulk of the medieval Monastery of the Cross (Arabic Deir el-Musalliba). According to the legend Lot came to live here after being separated from his daughters and planted cedar, cypress and pine seeds, which germinated and grew together to form the tree from whose wood Christ's cross was made. From this legend - which no doubt reflects an ancient tree cult - the monastery takes its name. Its early history is obscure. In Greek Orthodox tradition it was founded by the Empress Helen, mother of Constantine the Great, during her visit to Palestine. According to another tradition Constantine gave the site to the first Christian king of Georgia, Mirian (d. 342), who then built the monastery. Certainly there was a close connection over a long period between Georgia and the Monastery of the Cross, which had the same significance for the Christian peoples of Transcaucasia as the Georgian monastery of Iviron on Mount Athos. During the Crusader period and the subsequent years of Muslim rule, until the 18th century, the monastery remained in Georgian hands. In the 16th century there were 365 monks' cells; in the 18th there were still 220. When, after the decline of Georgia in the latter part of the 18th century, the monastery found itself in financial difficulties it passed into the hands of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, to which it still belongs. Valuable Georgian manuscripts are now preserved in the library of the Patriarchate. A few years after the foundation of the University of Athens the Greeks established a college here in which priests of eastern origin could pursue general and theological studies. The college, the first director of which was a Greek monk named Dionysios Kleophas, continued in existence until the First World War.
And here are a few pictures of the Monastery and the Valley. If you look closely you can see the Valley is surrounded on one side by the Knesset (The Israeli Parliament and The Israel Museum across the street.)

Monastery Of The Cross

Public Pathways In The Valley Of The Cross Park With Knesset In Far Background

Public Pathways In The Valley Of The Cross Park

Now we are done with history and geography down to the food on this holiday. BBQ is simple. We bring some steaks, some Kabab, some hotdogs (though the real dogs ate the dogs!), some burgers, some chicken wings and a fish for my non-meat-eater son. And we bring the handy portable BBQ, with coals, some fluid, a lighter, lots of Coke, some water, Watermelon, some Humus and Voila - a BBQ Picnic on Independence Day.

I already did the chicken wings on the BBQ in Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen in the post as mentioned, Grilled Chicken Pieces. Truth be told my children love the taste of BBQ meat so making a barbecue is a no-brainer.

The one thing you should not forget if you travel and use a portable BBQ, is to bring just one or two BBQ spices along. Most of the time the meat or chicken or fish does need it. Now most people do not think of BBQ'ing a fresh fish if they are not out fishing. However this is quite tasty and really great. And it really takes just a small bit of planning (which I passed this time only 50%). But I will give the Fish BBQ Recipe in full, and take it or leave it.

My son, went to the marketplace, "Machaneh Yehuda" and went to the fish stall and told the guy he wants a cheap fish that tastes good when BBQ. He bought a fish called in Hebrew "Musar Yam" also known as "Ayit HaYam" - which is called a "Meagre Fish" in English. (So help it is also known as a "Jew Fish" which I assume it is because it is a "kosher" fish.) The following is how it should be cooked on a BBQ - and I thank my oldest son, Amizorach, for reminding us about the silver foil. This my son, Avdiel, cooked for himself, (he is the no-meat person), and said he loved it. You will need a bit more patience than we had, but then again, in our family patience is just one of those qualities that is not in the genes.

Utensils Required:
  1. BBQ
  2. Silver Foil
  1. One Fish (In this case the "Musar Yam" or "Meagre" as it is known in English) - Make sure it is cleaned and you had the entrails removed. Otherwise you will have to do this yourself.
  2. One onion
  3. 1-2 Peppers (remember our last post about Peppers in the Picadillo - Ground Beef & Sauce Recipe? Well here you will need the normal peppers.
  4. A smidgen of Garlic Salt
  5. Salt to taste
  6. 1 Lemon
  7. Olive Oil
  8. One crazy Golden Retriever who thinks the fish and meat and all that work was being done for her and we are cooking her supper! (Just kidding - the dog is totally optional!)
Now remember, folks, this is not going to be a great gourmet fish. But it is going to taste great for those BBQ days.


  1. Lay out the fish in the silver foil.
  2. Sprinkle a smidgen (I love that word) of Garlic salt on the fish.
  3. Cut the lemon and squeeze around half of it over the fish.
  4. Salt as well.
  5. Cut the onion up, place a few small pieces inside the fish.
  6. Cut a couple pieces of lemon (not like in the pic, but take the skin off and put them inside as well)
  7. Cut the peppers up and put them around the fish.
  8. Sprinkle some Olive oil around.
  9. Salt a bit again.
  10. Cover the fish with the foil and put on top of coals that are heating at an even rate already.
  11. After around 10 minutes turn the fish over.
  12. 10 minutes later check the fish see how hot it is and if it the juices are all in the foil.
  13. Turn over again 5 minutes on each side.
  14. Voila! Real tasty fish. ENJOY!
Here are some and otherwise. I cannot resist. Just some of the kids....

The hard working children!

The crazy Golden Retriever.

Finally the non-meat eater does his stuff!

At least there was something for me to eat!

And may all that celebrated Independence Day have done so in joy and happiness. For in the end, when all is said and done, our small country, with all its mistakes and foibles, continues to be one great place - the land which we can call home. Chag Sameach and may we all live to celebrate many more days of joy and laughter and whoever we are, wherever we are - always know the feeling of freedom in our own home.

I am going to leave this at a two. BBQ away from home takes planning and schlepping. Why? Hey it is easy right? BUT you try doing this with a crazy dog, a few crazy kids, one child who wants to "use your lighter" while the other waits for food, and the rest look off into the wild yonder! I dare you! So I give it a two but it should get a FIVE (plus free valium!... :)

6 Fire Comments - Click To Post A Comment:

Paula and Elwood's Poetic Palace said...

I loved that you shared this day with your blog faithful. It is amazing how different yet similar our cultures are. Our Independence Day is generally celebrated with a BBQ as well.

The pictures look as though it was enjoyed by all. Good for you.

It is nice to see that you use a charcoal grill. I have been laughed at and made fun of by my guests a million times because I despise the lack of flavor of cooking with a gas grill. I refuse to give up the flavor of cooking with charcoal.

As for the traveling BBQ, I know first hand how that is thanks to the sisters.. (not the nuns, but my siblings)


What a treat to read this story and drool over the recipe.

I love the photos of your family. Your kids remind me of mine with their fun-loving poses.

My kids: Kim, 51; Matthew, 45; and my youngest who lives with me, Jacob, still the bachelor at 41.

Oh... and I forgot Cody, the love of my life - my 13 yr. old Australian Shepherd who once hauled an entire roasted leg of lamb off the kitchen table onto the floor. As my guests unwittingly enjoyed cocktails in another room, I surreptitiously grabbed the roast, rinsed it well under the sink faucet, and replaced it on the plate, adding a few artistic garnishes to cover any missing portions. My husband wondered why I was slyly grinning through the meal.


Unknown said...

It's great to read your story. I love to involve my children in the kitchen and I think it's interesting for them to learn different task at a time. I think you're doing good for a single parent. Cheers!

Professor Howdy said...

Hello! Food looks great!
Very good posting.
Thank you - Have a good day!!! said...

Your ways is amazing.

In my country, I never saw anyone to put the fruit in the laid out fishes.

It is really delicious???
I doubt..
So maybe next time, I will try to follow your ways to bbq.

Nice to see you blog, welcome to mine:

Deborah Dowd said...

Thanks so much for sharing your Independence Day. Funny how bbq seems to be the universal Independence Day meal no matter whose independence you're celebrating! As for your fish- I do a similar fish stuffed with lemon and a variety of herbs in the cavity and wrapped in foil and grilled- it is great!!