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Things that are weird in Israel #10: Celery


Does my hand look disgusted in this picture?

It should.

This is a stalk of what passes for “celery” in most parts of Israel.

The celery here came as a bit of a surprise, because of what everybody (truthfully) says about the produce here in Israel – which is almost universally fantastic.


We have found a few exceptions. 

Early oranges, for example, are not inspiring in the least.  But they sell like crazy anyway, because people are so eager for oranges after months without them.

The cucumbers here are tasty, but they are tiny, more like little pickles than a full-blooded cucumber.  Most people don’t bother peeling them, making them a convenient snack (for most people). 

But in me, the peeling habit has become ingrained, making them a totally annoying treat.  I’ve read too much about all the pesticides and bad stuff in the peels to just munch away on them.  So I have to peel and slice four of them to have enough to serve even me and the kids.  (slicing is optional, I admit)

And as for celery…

In some stores, we have found what’s known as “American celery” (סלרי אמריקאי/ selery Amerikai).  I believe one even had a star on it, to show off just how American it was.

When I Googled American celery just now to find pictures, though, this image popped up, as a reminder of what else is wrong with celery here:


Bugs.  According to this page, or at least, Google’s charming translation of it:

Many are infected insects on the leaves and on the cob. She touches insects such as caterpillars of various moths also pecking on the cob, leafminer larvae [found in leaves and stems], aphids, whiteflies tobacco thrips and Fsokaim.

[another page’s Google translation tells me that Fsokaim are “A group of about a millimeter in length tiny insects, lice are similar at first glance.”)

Yum.  So yeah, not only is it measly, but unless you want to spend all day checking it, you have to throw away the leaves.  Then scrub it thoroughly and inspect every nook and cranny.

But there is one good thing about celery here.  It’s easy to pronounce – you say it exactly the same as in English:  סלרי / sell-e-ry. 

So you can ask for it easily, anywhere you go!

That is, as long as you haven’t lost your appetite for celery altogether.

Shabbat Shalom from the holiest place on earth!

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


  1. It depends a lot what season it is. Celery and oranges are better in the winter.

    1. Oranges, for sure. We can't even really buy them anymore where we are. Someone expressed surprise that we were still buying lemons. But what's summer without lemonade? :-)

  2. It is definitely possible to buy larger cucumbers. You can scrub them with soap and water instead of peeling them. And you can buy gush katif bug-free celery.

    1. We literally have not seen larger cucumbers. They may be an "only in the merkaz" phenomenon...? Oh, wait, you're in Haifa. Drat, there goes that theory. :-/

    2. No, I'm in maale adumim. And I'm not talking about the very long ones. But definitely longer and fatter than what you described.

    3. Sorry, I was thinking of someone else. I have driven my husband crazy enough with my veggie demands... these days, I tend to take his word for it if he says he can't get something. I'm a lousy shopper, so we rely on him and his savlanut. :-)

  3. Israelis HATE American style large cucumbers. Just ask any Israeli who has visited America and had a salad. "Cucumbers in America are large and tasteless," many have said. The average size of a head of celery grown in Israel varies greatly from season to season. Winter celery is over twice the size of the celery grown during warmer months.

    1. Having personally grown cucumbers that were a) larger and b) tastier than anything you can get here, I take offense. :-)

  4. Replies
    1. Huh? A Hebrew word I don't know...? (what else is new!)


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