Embracing wrong turns, contradictions, and touristy kitsch might just be the best way to see Israel—or to travel anywhere
The taxis drivers in Jerusalem are an interesting lot, and not merely because each and every one—whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim—tried to rip me off. That I expected. What I didn't expect was how charmed I would be by all the scamming. It seemed like a big, cheerful game, in which happily dishonest hacks cross sectarian lines in their efforts to convince me that it will be cheaper not to use the meter—and it works out not to be true! Hilarious!
One particularly pleasant driver, when he learned I was American, smiled and said: "You are like a man standing on a fault line. Soon the earth will swallow you whole and you will die." Impressive. I actually tipped him.
I had asked him to take me to a restaurant called Ima, in the area around the Mahane Yehuda market. The sister of an Israeli friend in New York had told me that it was an excellent spot to try upscale Israeli food, and it was well known enough that all the taxi drivers would be able to find it. I ended up instead at a restaurant called Sima, which the cabbie insisted was Ima. ("I know it," he said. "Good soup.") Ima, Sima, what difference does it really make, so long as the food is good, which it was. I had the me'urav, a formidable combination of sautéed chicken hearts, lungs, and various other unmentionables served next to a heap of excellent French fries. Two nights later, I returned to Sima for dinner. What did I see down the block and across the street? Ima. I went in. It was fantastic.