Word of the Day / Mivhan America’i

In Israel, there's nothing more American that soft-serve ice cream and multiple-choice tests.

Is “American ice cream” (“glida America’it”):
A) Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey?
B) The 31 flavors of Baskin-Robbins?
C) Mint chocolate chip?
D) None of the above.

Well, mint chocolate chip is a good guess, since it’s hard to come by in Israel -- though there’s plenty of green ice cream, which signals (what else?) pistachio flavor. But no, that’s not it. When Israelis refer to American ice cream, all they’re talking abut is soft-serve, like the kind that comes out of those machines.

And that multiple-choice quiz up top? That’s American too, apparently -- what Israelis refer to as “mivhan America’i,” an “American test.” Is it because of all those standardized tests requiring a sharp No. 2 pencil and the ability to fill in lots and lots of circles? Is it a tribute to the American love for freedom of choice? Is it because Israelis think Americans are too dumb to get the right answer if asked to fill in the blank? Maybe it’s all -- or none -- of the above.

There are many things that Americans typically associate with being American: apple pie, baseball, the Constitution, Oprah Winfrey. But sometimes you need Israelis to clue you in on what being American is all about. Because otherwise, who would have guessed that the real answer is soft-serve ice cream and multiple-choice tests?