I did a lot of walking in Jerusalem, most of it in the blazing heat. Given my brief time in the city I made sure I did and saw as much as possible, but I also made sure to rest and take a few breaks each day. During my first day in the city I noticed a regular feature at most of the food stands and stalls in and around the souks of the Old City. It was an old fashioned looking machine that clearly was meant to squeeze fruit. I assumed it was for orange juice, as we commonly found in Greece, but a closer examination on my second day revealed a treat hidden in plain sight.
It was just after I attended services at the impressive Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the heart of Jerusalem’s Christian quarter adjacent to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I had spent a wonderful morning reveling in the rare solitude of near empty souks as I retraced the Via Dolorosa and observed a variety of Sunday services in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Following the Lutheran service, I decided to stop in at a local food stall directly opposite the church and to investigate the fruit press. Obviously used to the Germans who frequent the Lutheran church, the boy manning the stall and I began a strange conversation in pidgin English, German and Arabic, and after a minute I finally realized what he was selling. Freshly squeezed pomegranate juice; I could hardly believe it.
At home pomegranate is the new health fad, but it’s one of the oldest drinks found in the Mediterranean. The only two things I really knew about it was that it is expensive and Oprah likes it. (I don’t think the two are linked) I was even more shocked at the price, just $4 bought me a full glass of juice, using several of the bright red fruit to make it. Since a tiny bottle of it costs several bucks back home, I quickly nodded to the boy who began a laborious process of making the juice.
At long last the glass of Mediterranean fruit delight was placed before me and I slowly sipped the tart liquid while chuckling at the German tourists who were thoroughly confused by their wad of sheckles.
As I sat there contemplating my morning and drinking the juice, I realized that while I wouldn’t in Jerusalem long enough to truly understand it, that morning was the perfect primer in the simple joys that make the city great.
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