More About Kosher Meals on Cathay Pacific

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This is the second time I have travelled with Cathay Pacific and so eaten the kosher meals they provide for the economy class, with a three-year interval in between the two experiences.

The caterer for the return flight – from Hong Kong to Paris – had apparently changed and was now Hermolis, an English caterer based in Wembley. One I had tried six years ago while travelling with Swissair.

About half an hour after takeoff, I was shown the three sealed trays for each of the meal I was entitled to, i.e. dinner, snacks and breakfast. Like the first time, there was a certificate on the tray which indicated that the meat was glatt kosher and the roll mezonot.

Dinner, which was served at 2 am due to an 90 minute delay, consisted of: chicken liver pâté (yes, you’ve read correctly), stir fried chicken with vegetables and rice, streusel pie and fruit salad. There was also a bread roll. Apart from the liver pâté, the food was decent – even if the chicken tasted more like a curry than a stir fry. The fruit salad was really good.

I was spoiled for the snacks, compared to other passengers who had the choice between peanuts, biscuits and/or cup noodles since I had three small sandwiches made filled with turkey and pastrami as well as another but different fruit salad.

Breakfast included an omelette with potatoes and baked beans, a Danish Pastry, a challah-like roll, a portion of cheese with crackers, orange juice and a third kind of fruit salad.

For each meal there were a parve coffee creamer, parve ‘butter’ and a sealed cup of mineral water. I have no idea whether there was kosher wine on board since I don’t drink alcohol when I fly.

While the meals on Cathay three years ago had been a bit too light, this was certainly not the case this year. There certainly was ample food but it could have been healthier. Honestly who wants chicken liver pâté in the middle of the night or baked beans for breakfast? A kosher vegetarian option would be a most welcome option to the long list of special meals Cathay Pacific offers.

Another problem was the fact that dinner and the snacks were basari (meat), which means that the travelers who wait for six hours after eating meat could not have breakfast unless they requested to eat the snacks quite early into the flight.

Over all I’d say that the meal was decent but not terrific; obviously the gourmet chefs mentioned on the flyers that were inside the tray had all been on holiday when these meals were made.

My previous posts on the topic:

Kosher meals on Swissair and Air France in 2007

Kosher meals on Cathay Pacific in 2010

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Classic Combo

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I was a little optimistic last week when I thought I would manage to write blog posts during my trip. Still one thing that I can easily write about is food.

The food in Hong Kong is quite similar to Cantonese food, with tastes that are more alien to the Western palate than that of Beijing.

One staple element of Chinese food however is soup. At lunch time, people flock to small restaurants and eat all sorts of noodles in broth. Numerous places offer this on their menus for a nominal sum; the only problem being to find one where the menu is in English.

Here is an idea of the kind of combination you can have:
– vegetable broth, sweet and sour broth (mild, medium, hot or very hot) or spicy hot broth – the last two being meat broths
– rice noodles (round), rice vermicelli or udon
– two choices among the following list: vegetables, pickled vegetables, Chinese chive, bean sprouts, mushrooms, fish slices, duck slices, beef slices, pork slices, tofu, soy puffs, bean curd crisp slice, pork intestine (!!)

Not a Weekly Review

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Those who have been following this blog for a while know that I have relatives in Hong Kong and that I sometimes go and visit. This is such a time! So there I am again, glad that I have left the cold and rain behind.

The flight was smooth but I never shut my eyes for very long. Who wants to sleep when you fly over mythical places such Mongolia or the Gobi desert? The blinds were down but I managed to steal a few glances and take some photos.

I watched Dustin Hoffman’s recent Quartet which was perfect for the trip: nice music, great acting and a generous plot. If you want to go and see a feel-good movie, don’t miss it!

Obviously the previous days have been filled with work, running around to get a few gifts and the French products my brother and his family miss in Hong Kong and packing. As a result there will be no weekly review this week but you can visit Leora’s, Lorri’s as well as Zivah’s blogs since all three have put up several blog posts this week.

Come back to this spot in a few days as I am sure I’ll have more to share. Meanwhile: Shabbat Shalom!

The Jewish Museum – London

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The Jewish Museum in London is the combination of two Jewish museums. One is the Jewish Museum which was founded in 1932 by Professor Cecil Roth, Alfred Rubens and Wilfred Samuel. Originally located in Woburn House in Bloomsbury, it moved to a building in Camden Town in 1994.

The other is the London Museum of Jewish Life which was founded in 1983 as the Museum of the Jewish East End with the aim of rescuing and preserving the disappearing heritage of London’s East End – the heartland of Jewish settlement in Britain. .

In 1995 the two Museums merged but between 1995 and 2007 the combined Jewish Museum still ran on two sites. Finally the museum bought a former piano factory behind the Camden Town site and raised the required funds to combine and remodel the buildings. The new Museum opened to the public on 17 March 2010.

The fist floor of the museum features a gallery entitled ‘Judaism: A Living Faith’, which is devoted to Jewish life through one of the world’s finest collections of Judaica, featuring objects used in all areas of Jewish religious life, in both the public and private spheres.

The second floor gives an insight into British Jewish history from 1066 to the present day. Jews first settled in England in 1066 after the Norman conquest and there were Jewish communities in many towns in the medieval period. However, in 1290 the Jews were expelled from Britain by Edward 1. They were only readmitted to Britain by Oliver Cromwell in 1656. This new community steadily developed until the late 19th century when it increased rapidly with the arrival of some 150,000 Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Many of the newcomers settled in London’s East End, which became home to a vibrant cultural and religious life. Numerous objects in the museum reflect this period.

The Museum’s Holocaust Gallery is made up of items and filmed survivor testimony from Leon Greenman, OBE, an English-born Auschwitz survivor who devoted his life to speaking about his experiences and campaigning against racism until his death in 2008.

The third floor of the building is for temporary exhibitions.

The Jewish Museum in London is a pleasant small-sized museum where you can spend between one and two hours, depending on whether you choose to visit the whole museum or focus on only one floor. It has a kosher café and a shop.

Jewish Sculptor in Anglican Church

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‘Victims of Injustice and violence’

Sculpture by Chaim Stephenson to remember all victims of injustice and violence in South Africa during the years of apartheid.

Chaim Stephenson was born in Liverpool to Russian immigrant parents. Profoundly affected by the Holocaust, he moved to Israel and was one of the founders of Kibbutz Yas’ur in Northern Israel where he met British author Lynn Reid Banks. The family returned to England in 1971.

In 1991 he was commissioned to create a bronze sculpture to commemorate the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. It can be seen inside Saint Martin in-the-Fields in London.

Chaim Stephenson’s website

My Week in England

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The title of this post is no reference to a recent trip but to the title I gave to my first visit to England in the 1970s.

When I was 11, my parents took me on a journey to England. We spent three days in London (I remember that the hotel was near Piccadilly Circus). Then my parents drove to York where my father had a business meeting and I spent a week in the Midlands with the Brown family: my mother’s pen friend, her husband and their two sons – Alan and Steven.

I was in the first year of middle school but Alan, who was a little younger than me, was in primary school. I went to school with him for a week and more generally shared their family life.

Mrs Brown was a French teacher and she made sure I learnt new things every day. At the end of my stay, she made me write a short diary of my time with them. I had only learnt the present tenses and she had to teach me the past so I could write the following lines.

I had enjoyed this trip so much that I kept this little booklet which I found again a few days ago at the bottom of a drawer. Apart from a short daily account of my week, there are also photos and postcards and a few lines about English meals. Can’t you just tell that even then I liked writing better than art?

It was a fantastic idea and I am glad I still have it after so many years.

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Sunday: We went to Coombe Abbey. We played on the swings and slides. We went on the nature trail.

Monday: I went to school with Alan. I went swimming.

Tuesday: It was Alan’s barbecue. We put up his tent in the garden. For tea we had hot-dogs and beef-burgers. We made a trail to the woods and we played hide and seek.

Wednesday: I went to Kenilworth Castle and Coventry Cathedral in a coach. I had a picnic. After school I went swimming. I visited a big school.

Thursday: At school I drew a Kenilworth Castle. We talked about Coventry Cathedral. We did athletics. I ran and I did long jump and threw a cricket ball.

Friday: I went to school and won a badge for athletics.

Saturday: We went to the Battlefield of Bosworth. We saw the film Richard III.

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10 Reasons to Visit Sweden

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– The scenery: the landscapes are magnificent. You are never far from a lake or the sea and there are lots of forests.

– The cities: Stockholm and Göteborg are two large cities with plenty to offer. There are numerous interesting museums and art galleries, synagogues with regular services, canals, lots of shops and restaurants. With under one million inhabitants for Stockholm and half a million for Göteborg, they have a reasonable size that makes them very pleasant to visit.

– The food: the Swedes eat a lot of fish and are very careful to serve both fresh and tasty food. The breads and desserts are quite nice too.

– Languages: 99% of the population speak English. If you are more adventurous, mastering a few basic Swedish words and expressions is not too hard. In addition, Swedish grammar is not very different from English grammar.

– Swedish literature: I am a fan of Swedish crime fiction and enjoy crime stories when I need to escape. I recently discovered Johan Theorin‘s novel Echoes from the Dead and strongly recommend it for its atmosphere.

– Cuture: Music: Swedish pop music has not acquired international fame but some groups and individuals are quite pleasant to listen to. If you have a little time try Kent, Jonathan Johansson or Håkan Hellström.
Movies: you all know about Ingrid Bergman but the Swedish film industry is still strong and alive. The Millenieum movies are worth watching, so are the Kurt Wallender series or the films by Lukas Moodysson.

– The welfare system: low unemployment, no beggars in the streets, free lunches at school for all, 480 days of paid parental leave for each child, daycare, etc. This is better explained by Gabriel Stein in The 10 best reasons to move to Sweden or My truth about tax in Sweden.

– Health and the environment: much before it was fashionable, and necessary, the Swedes have cared for their health and their environment. Recycling, walking, cycling or public transport (rather than driving), affordable organic produce, waste management, homemade food, nature protection are part and parcel of their every day life.

– LGBT rights: according to ILGA-Europe, Sweden is the second most gay-friendly county in Europe.

– Last but not least, the Swedes: the Swedes are usually welcoming, unassuming and kind. They are very proud when you take an interest in their small country and are more than happy to share the things they enjoy.

News and an Ethical Question

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I have not totally disappeared from the blogosphere but being on vacation in a place where there is only one wifi spot inside the common room of the little restored village, I have not had the opportunity for much online presence. Besides I am also busy with visiting lots of fantastic places and enjoying the beauties of Italian nature and architecture.

This morning I finished The Sunday Philosophy Club by Aleaxander McCall Smith – the author of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series. It is a fine holiday read where the main character has a keen interest in ethics. Here is a passage which caught my attention. Two characters are discussing whether one of them should help and get involved after witnessing a crime and they get into a debate about involvement and moral duty in general.

“We can’t have moral obligations to every person in this world. We have a moral obligation to those we come up against, who enter our moral space, so to speak. That means neighbours, people we deal with, and so on.”

Do you agree?

Arras: the Squares

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Arras is an attractive town in the North of France. The town’s two great squares are stunning providing a collection of 155 unique facades of Flemish baroque architecture. In 1492 Arras had become part of the Spanish Netherlands and this explains the style of the architecture.

In Northern Europe these large town squares were originally designed to accommodate large markets which in different periods contributed largely to the prosperity of those cities.

I had been in Arras before but never for a whole day. On Sunday we walked round the town which is probably the best way to discover the cobblestoned town center and visited the museum.

10 Things I Love About Antwerp

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– It is a Belgian city. I have already mentioned how much I like Belgium. As the second largest Belgian city, Antwerp obviously has all the features I enjoy there.

– It has the largest Jewish community in Belgium.

– Walking through the Jewish area of the city feels a little like being thrown back into the sheitls of 20th century Europe.

– People speak Yiddish there in the streets, in the shops; even Indian diamond brokers speak it.

– There are dozens of Jewish stores, big and small. For someone like me for whom buying kosher products is a bit of a hurddle race, walking into those stores felt like being a child in a gift shop.

– The young butcher who served me was friendly and smiling and made me feel like an old customer.

– The linguist in me loves to hear people switch from one language to another. It is not unusual to hear people use three or four different languages in one store.

– We bought a new Chanukiah for the next holiday.

– We have some friends there so it is very nice to get some insiders’ insights into this place (its history, habits, food, …)

– I learned a lot more about Chasidism and feel far less judgemental about it.

Shabbat Shalom!