Friday, February 11, 2011

Menu Man

I am excited to note that this is my 50th blog post! I know I owe you all a blog post on Groopbuy, but I wanted to write this one today.

When I lived in New York I could constantly face a moral dilemma. As I would exit the subways, my office building or simply walk the streets, I was constantly offered menus and flyers from all sorts of restaurants, dinners buffet quickie-marts and sandwich stands… you all know what I’m talking about. My dilemma goes like this: ‘Do I take the menu in an effort to help out the menu handerouter even though I know the place he is pushing is not kosher and that I would not eat there, or would doing so have been a disservice to the restaurant since I knew I would not be eating there and would be using one of their menus.’

My position on Take v. Pass would switch back and forth and I could never find peace of mind on either side of the fence. Since I have moved to Israel, I am happy to say that I am able to live in the best of both worlds. Now as I leave the train station or walk around my office, I take menus from menu handerouters with a smile, knowing that I may well try their restaurant. I now know what I was missing in New York – I find it so exciting to have the opportunity to try all these great lunch places.

I must say however, that I unfortunately do not get the chance to try new places nearly enough. Between my, lately, very bust work schedule, my occasionally bringing lunch from home and my affinity for the healthy “create your own salad” option, my exploration has been limited. I usually try new places with my friend Ido, who works upstairs in a different group of GSE. Ido takes a different look on his office life. Since I have about an hour and a half commute to and from work, leaving at 9 and 10:30 is a huge difference. Ido lives much closer and although he is really busy at work now, he still likes to go for the occasional sit down lunch, knowing full well that it will keep him at the office till 10 or later. I guess he figures his night is shot anyways. This week on Monday (worked till 12:45 am), Ido took me to an awesome lunch place that felt like home style Israeli food – salads, pita, hummus, goulash all for 30 shekel ($8.50). As we left, we got complimentary tea to go and I was given a punch card – buy 9 lunches and the 10th is free.

Which brings me to the reason I wanted to write this post today. As I mentioned, I like buying salads for lunch. The salad place also has a punch card – buy 9 and get one free. There have been times when I was agnostic about my lunch preference and the fact that I had a punch card led me to the salad bar. Punch cards can be a powerful marketing tool. With a little help from my office-mate, Ori, today I reached my 9th punch. As I triumphantly handed my credit and punch cards to the cashier, I held back my smile and nonchalantly ordered a large salad. When she punched the card she wished me a congratulations and told me tomorrow’s salad would be free… I felt like a winner.

Last week, I finally took advantage of the food options and availability cherry on top for the first time since I arrived. I went to McDonalds. This again is one of the many things some of my readers (namely the non-kosher observant ones) probably take for granted. There are only two countries in the world that have kosher McDonalds. Israel and Argentina. Although I have been here for nearly 6 months, I only made my first visit to McDonalds last week. 

Me @ McDonalds
 I was leaving the office late and figured I’d pick up food for the ride home. When I got there, I was terribly disappointed to discover that the McDonalds in Israel had adapted the policy that New York implemented for all chain restaurants – they showed how many calories were in each menu item. 
This was a disappointing blow to me, because I could not justify ordering a double Big Mac knowing that it was 657 calories. I am sure any burger I would order at a restaurant here would have a similar if not greater calorie count, but knowing the numbers made it too much for me. I instead shifted to the left to the 10 shekel menu – I suppose this was Israel’s version of the dollar menu, but it really came to more like the $3 menu. I ordered a plain one patty burger, 3 chicken nuggets and a small fries. I cannot remember the calorie count in each item individually but I imagine that I ended up having a +600 calorie dinner, but it was just made up of 3 parts, which for some reason makes if feel/sound less bad. While eating at McDonalds had some nice novelty to it, the food was nothing to write home about (worth blogging about though).

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