Life can be crazy

And time passes quickly with the craziness….and blogs get neglected.

Independence Day came and went (we went again to the annual kibbutz picnic), and thus officially opened the mangal (barbeque)  season. Outdoor eating is a national sport in Israel, from Independence Day in May until well into October (when we have a holiday of a whole week when we’re required to eat outside).  The Israeli barbeque is known as “mangal” (both a’s have the “ah” sound), and during mangal season weekends every possible open space is filled with people and the smoke from the mangals makes a cloud over the country.  The cloud is traditionally the thickest on Independence Day, of course.

An essential tool of the mangal is the nafnaf, which is used to properly fan the flames/charcoals. Otherwise the food just doesn’t taste as good.  Mangal sets almost always include a nafnaf, here seen in  green.

They are generally plastic, in a wide range of colours and a few basic shapes…

From the beginning of May you can find bins of them in most markets and shops.

No self-respecting mangaler would be without a nafnaf, although in an absolute emergency a piece of cardboard will do.

And for the truly dedicated, there is an app called the Nafnaf Champion to practice that wrist action…


It is an odd facet of the mangal that it is perceived as primarily the domain of men.  Women may indeed prepare the food pre-barbeque, with the cutting and chopping and adding sauces and marinades, but when it comes to firing up the coals and cooking the food any men present will shoo the women away.  Only when no men are around will one see a woman wielding a nafnaf.

During the years that I taught English as a foreign language to adults, I usually taught vocabulary by subject.  When we would reach the unit on kitchens and cooking, there were invariably some men in the class (not all, thank goodness) who would laugh and say that wasn’t anything to do with them, since only the women in their family cook.  I would ask if they were in charge of the mangal.  They would say “Of course!!! ” Then I would say “Well, then, you do cook.”  “Absolutely not!”   “But you mangal.”  “Of course.”  “So you cook.”  “Never!!”   And again and around and so on.

It seems to be a peculiar short-circuit in the brains of some Israeli men.  Perhaps there is someone who will seek grant money to research the phenomenon.


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