IT’S FRUIT FESTIVAL TIME FOR SHAVUOT!
Fresh, delicious raspberries (petel) have come to join the blueberries, and the blueberry price has dropped!!
Raspberries — 125 gram package — 22 NIS!
Blueberries — 125 gram package — 15 NIS!
500 gram special — 55 NIS!
THIS WEEK, THE SUMMER FRUIT BOXES BEGIN
As the seasons change, the fruit is changing to summer varieties as well. The prices of summer fruits are generally higher, and to enable us to continue giving you the quantities you enjoyed over the winter, from this week we’re offering a large summer fruit box for 100 NIS. Small summer fruit boxes will remain available for 70 NIS, as in the past, but the quantity of fruit we can include will be less.
Let us know which option you prefer. Go into our Order System today to update your Fruit Box order!
MAY YOU ENJOY A SWEET, HEALTHY HARVEST FESTIVAL OF SHAVUOT!
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the Fakus has come!
In perfect step with Shavuot, over the last two weeks we harvested our first beds of fakus, aka “Arabic cucumber.” After several years of questions pouring in like, “This week I received two portions of zucchini and no cucumbers!” this year we decided to begin to pack the fakus in a separate, additional bag from the cucumbers (for now only in the large boxes until the quantities increase). This way it will be easier for those in the know to identify, and to make introductions to those not yet acquainted with the wonderful fakus. To properly meet the fakus, here’s what I learned from our longtime client Tzipi from Jerusalem: the fakus stem resembles that of a cucumber, not zucchini! If you received a light-colored elongated vegetable that kind-of-resembles-zucchini-but-also-kind-of-doesn’t, check out its stem (the part where it attaches to the plant): if it is wide and star-shaped like a zucchini, well… it’s a zucchini. If it’s thin and willowy like a cucumber, then say hi to our friend the fakus.
Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the fakus in all its glory:
At the heat of the day in the scorching Sinai desert, the Israelites craved the Egyptian fare, reminiscing, “We remember the. . . . cucumbers, and the melons…” (Numbers 11, 5). The “cucumbers” they missed were most probably the fresh fakus. And to be honest, I totally understand them. Fakus is definitely worth pining away for. Thus, every summer, we descendants of those Egyptian exiles are proud to bring to you the vegetable hankered by our great-great-great-great-great-great-greeeaaaaaat-grandparents….
Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus was also known for his fondness for cucumbers. He would eat cucumbers every day of the year, necessitating the Roman farmers to develop artificial methods to grow the vegetable year-round. According to Historia Naturalis by Pliny the Elder (Book XIX, Chapter 23), “Indeed, he [Tiberius] was never without it [cucumber]; for he had raised beds made in frames upon wheels, by means of which the cucumbers were moved and exposed to the full heat of the sun; while, in winter, they were withdrawn, and placed under the protection of frames glazed with mirrorstone.”
Tiberius was probably not munching on the cucumber we all know and love, i.e., the Cucumis Sativus, but rather on the light and somewhat hairy fakus, aka Armenian cucumber. And today’s surprising revelation: The fakus is in fact …a melon. Also coined the “snake melon,” on account of its looks, in botanical terms this is the Cucumis melo var. flexuosus melon. However, we do not let the fakus mature like our melons—we pick it in its crunchy sweet youth, like the cucumbers (which is a good thing, really, because the fakus just would not ever become a real tasty melon at full maturity). There are all sorts of fakus varieties grown worldwide: light green, striped, long and curved, or short and light like a cucumber. At Chubeza we grow two types of the light-colored variety: the small fakus, about the length of a cucumber, and one which is long and curved.
Melons and cucumbers belong to the same family, but they are two different entities with diverse characteristics. When you look at the leaves, you can tell that fakus leaves are rounder and less serrated, similar to their melon brothers. Its flavor and appearance are closer to the cucumber, but not really: the fakus is not thorny at all. It is covered with soft fuzz and is sweeter and crunchier than the cucumber. However, like the cucumber, it is picked in its youth, before its seeds mature, which is why it is not as soft as a melon.
Like the cucumber, the fakus sometimes tends to be bitter. Various attempts to overcome this bitterness have proven that we must carefully choose the plants whose seeds are to be kept for next year, making certain that they are non-bitter plants. We hope you will not receive a bitter fakus, but to be on the safe side, when you slice them up into a salad, first nibble at the point where the fakus was attached to the plant. That’s where the bitterness begins. If you like what you taste, slice away. If it’s bitter, take a bite further down. Sometimes the bitterness remains contained at the end…
The fakus is lauded by chefs as part of the trend to return to local, homegrown “baladi” food of the past. It does resemble the cucumbers enjoyed here in bygone years, prior to the arrival of the garden cucumber. Several years ago we were visited by Dr. Moshe Ra’anan, who has written many articles about plants and animals in the Bible. He photographed our nice fakus varieties and wrote a few words about them (in Hebrew). I learned from him that during the Mishnaic period there was actually a verb “to fakus” (“לפקס”), related to the ripening of the fakus. Our commentators offered two different interpretations for its definition: 1. the stage at which the fuzz is shed from the fruit, or 2. the stages at which the flower dries up and falls from the fruit.
Either way, when the fakus’s are fakused, you can wash, slice, add some salt if desired and joyfully bite into it, or you may preserve it, just like a cucumber, producing delicious pickles, and even fry or stuff it like a zucchini. And all this while being …a melon!
Check out our recipe section for some delectable fakus recipes.
Confused? That’s ok, just enjoy the fakus and Bon Appetite! It’s one of the vegetables that grows only in Spring, thus only with us for a short time. Enjoy!!!
Wishing you a great week and a joyous Shavuot,
Alon, Bat-Ami, Dror, Orin, Einat and the entire Chubeza team
WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?
Monday: Lettuce, onions/scallions, squash and zucchini, beets, carrots, potatoes, parsley/coriander, Swiss chard/kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, slice of pumpkin/acorn squash/sweet potatoes.
Large box, in addition: Garlic/celeriac or celery stalk, cabbage/turnips, eggplant/ fakus
FRUIT BOXES: Nectarines/peaches, apples/pears, avocados, bananas. Large box, in addition: Larger quantities of the above, plus cherries
Wednesday: Lettuce, onions/scallions, squash and zucchini, beets, carrots, potatoes, parsley/coriander, Swiss chard/kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, slice of pumpkin/acorn squash/sweet potatoes.
Large box, in addition: Garlic/celery stalk, cabbage/turnips, eggplant/fakus
FRUIT BOXES: Nectarines/peaches, apples/pears, avocados, bananas. Large box, in addition: Larger quantities of the above, plus cherries.