What Does Fog Taste Like? An Israeli Artist Has the Answer

This week at the Tel Aviv airport: An Israeli tries to understand what’s exciting about sweets

Shlomi Amar, 30, from Tel Aviv; arriving from Berlin

Hello, can I ask what the story is with that huge “Hai” pendant [the Hebrew word for “life,” whose letters in numerology add up to 18]?

I like it and it makes me feel good. Eighteen is a number that brings goodness, a typological number that denotes good energy. The “hai” symbol also raises questions, especially in Israel, and is very confusing just because it’s so oversize and exaggerated. In Berlin, for example, they didn’t necessarily understand that it’s a Jewish symbol.

What were you doing in Berlin?

I stayed with a friend from Saturday until today, Tuesday. A short trip – a year ago a friend bought a low-cost ticket to Berlin and suddenly it arrived. Even though I knew it would happen, it was a surprise.

How was it?

A good time, all in all. A victory. It’s very quiet in Europe, very calm and nice. It was cold, and I bought a skiing outfit, even though I don’t ski, just for fun. One of the things I like best in trips is to go into a supermarket and buy things I’m not familiar with and taste them. There are a lot of good things; I don’t know why we don’t have them in Israel.

What was tasty?

Pecorino [cheese] with truffles, a Kinder delicacy that you keep in the refrigerator and Snickers ice cream. I like sweets, I even studied sweets.

What do you mean?

I’m an artist and I’m now doing a project involving performance and food – I wanted to understand what’s exciting about sweets.

What does the project look like?

I bought a booth that looks a little like a laboratory, and I focus on molecular desserts so as to create something enchanting and thrilling that will arouse the inner child.

Isn’t it the sugar in the sweets that arouses the inner child?

Not necessarily. The Kinder egg has probably been the coolest sweet for kids for almost 40 years. It works because it possesses mystery and an interplay of textures. Those are the elements that I inserted into the servings and the design of the booth. By the way, did you know that they created Kinder Joy [“surprise eggs” with toys inside] because the original Kinder would melt in Israel from the heat?

I had no idea. What flavors do you serve, for example?

Gin violets with balls of pineapple, and coconut violets, burrito cookies with a wafer with salty caramel inside, and I have a dish called “Hello to the Fairy,” which has a base of Pop Rocks and on it a crumble of white chocolate with almonds, and on that ice cream of Amarena cherries in fresh pistachio in liquid nitrogen.

Sounds tasty, but what’s the nitrogen doing there?

Usually during process of preparation, the ice cream cooks and undergoes crystallization – that is, the mass changes from liquid to solid, when it’s rotated for a few hours. With nitrogen, it happens in 30 seconds, and then the texture is a little different – fun and soft.

Yum.

And I have edible fog, which is also fun.

How do you eat fog?

There’s dry ice with flavor extracts and Bamba [a peanut snack food] that I throw whole into the nitrogen, and then all the air inside cools, and when you bite into it, you breathe out cold vapor. It’s an eating experience. I put praline cream with frozen Bamba on your finger, and it’s even better.

How did you arrive at the combination of performance and food?

I studied confectionery at Estella in Givat Shmuel, a really good school, and then I studied industrial design at the Avni Institute, and for my graduation project I wanted to combine a few things I loved. It worked out well for me.

Sounds like it.

It’s important for me to say that everything is vegan. I work with a confectioner partner who came up with a lot of vegan ideas, and it’s terrific. It’s an idea I had three years ago. A lot of my friends got married, and I saw plenty of dull [food] booths. And then I thought about synesthesia, which is a sensory mixture: seeing taste, smelling color. The combination of a display and food creates something very moving. Anway, there’s a lot of emotion in food.

Which emotion do you hope to achieve?

Not long ago, I did an exposure event in a Jaffa restaurant where there are all kinds of rotating exhibitions. An elderly couple, 80 years old, arrived, and I did the trick with the cream and the frozen Bamba on the finger. They looked at one another and chuckled, and that was that. That moment of “Wow! Nice fog! Fun!”

Are you dreaming of art or the restaurant business?

When I grow up, I want a studio or a lab. I don’t want a restaurant, I also think I don’t want a cash register. The truth is that paying for it hurts the experience.

Yeliz Smila. Tomer Appelbaum

Yeliz Smila, 31, from Tel Aviv and Shaharut, near Eilat; flying to Delhi, India

Hello, can I ask where you’ll be in India?

We’ll land in Delhi, and from there go to Jaipur and then to Pushkar.

Who is “we”?

My husband and I go to India every year, but this isn’t a regular trip: Roy’s mother is coming with us this time. She was born in Mumbai and is half-Indian. The first part will be a journey with her, and then there will be the performances.

What performances?

My husband is a musician. He’s a member of the Faran Ensemble, which is an ethnic band, and he’s also in a band that’s called Anna RF, which plays electric ethnic reggae. But he’s not just about the music, he’s a very special person: very balanced, plays a lot of instruments.

How did you meet?

I am originally from Turkey. We first met four-five years ago in Dharamsala, and then a year later in Goa. We were just friends then. Then he came with the band to perform in Ankara and I became the show’s manager, and in the end we got into a relationship. Since then I’ve stopped being their manager, because one of the biggest producers in Turkey latched on to Ana RF, and that was all that was needed. Besides which, since then, we got married.

Where was the wedding?

We were married in Ankara, because half my family lives there. We can’t actually get married in Israel, and I also didn’t get a visa until last June. They kept rejecting me, and it took a lot longer than we thought it would.

Where do you live?

We have a home in Shaharut, so most of the time we’re there, even though in the past two months we’ve been more in the center, in Tel Aviv. I like these switches.

What is Shaharut?

A village that was founded in 1985 in the middle of the desert. There are only 36 families living there.

What’s it like?

The people are beautiful and the place is also amazing. You can see the pink hills of Jordan. I really love the place, incredible neighbors, a lot of artists, everyone is very nice. If Roy goes on a short tour, I stay in Shaharut and it’s pleasant. He’s lived there since he was 20 and has a house that he built with his own hands, and we’re continuing to build it with our hands. Just now we’re building another room, and I’ve learned how to do it. I love it, I enjoy creating and using the imagination.

What do you do in life?

I am a yoga and Pilates teacher, and that’s also why I went to India.

What kind of yoga?

I do hatha yoga and ashtanga, and before that I taught Pilates. Now I teach a combination of Pilates and ashtanga.

How do they go together?

There’s a difference between the way you breathe in Pilates and the way you breathe in yoga, so I change things in the middle of the class, and when you change breathing technique, everything changes.

What’s the difference in breathing?

In ashtanga you use ujjayi breathing – ocean breathing: you breathe through the nose and there’s always this kind of sound when you let out the air. In Pilates you take air when you do a pose, and the breaths change with each exercise.

Sounds interesting.

That’s what I do in my training, and I discovered that it’s more effective, so I asked my students if they were ready to try. The key is using the breath. Sometimes the change allows you to reach the core muscles, and then it’s possible to return to yoga and do more asanas.

Did you start from yoga or Pilates?

I taught Pilates for a long time and was an established teacher, but yoga was very important to me, so I dropped everything in order to learn that, and then it was important for me to go to the source in India and study there. That was the best decision I made. You also have to understand that in Turkey, yoga isn’t as “strong” as it is in Israel.

Do you teach in Israel, too?

I haven’t started to teach in Israel yet, because we moved around so much. When I get more settled here I will start to give classes.

Do you like living here?

I feel good here. I get to travel around the whole country because of the performances, and people are nice to me everywhere. I feel that there is a connection between Israel and Turkey, and that the Mediterranean vibe is pleasant. Sometimes I miss Turkish food and the language a little, but that would happen everywhere, and most of my husband’s work is located in Israel, so it’s more convenient for us here than in any other country.

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