One of my favorite days of the month was going to Costco and buying a large bag of frozen fruits, the ones you get for ten bucks, a bag of bananas for a dollar fifty, a case of Tropicana orange juice for eleven bucks, and fozen yogurt for five bucks. Take all these things and throw them in my nice blender...and music to my air. I am an addict to homemade smoothies and I have a combination of fruity mixes. For example, mango, bananas, and peaches with orange juice are a favorite. Or the berry mix with frozen yogurt, and strawberries. Now that I have been trapped in the Gaza Strip and I am determined to make smoothies here. As you know people in Gaza lose their jobs, loved ones and even their lives in a matter of seconds, but that does not mean I have to lose my mojo. Here are few challenges to my plan"
Problem One, frozen fruits have not gone mainstream in Gaza, maybe because the food sits for days on the crossings and it is costly to keep it frozen that long. It could be that people do not have enough fruits to consume fresh, yet alone to freeze it.
Solution I started freezing my own, whatever seasonal fruits I can buy for cheap, I freeze. Mangos, plums, melons, grapes are all summer fruits and all make great smoothie fruits.
Problem Two, due to the power shortage, electricity cuts off regularly and thus it is hard to keep food frozen. Once a day power cuts off about six hours and one cannot get fruits to a freezing degree on such conditions.
Solution, freeze my fruits at nearby family members who have a power generator which created another problem, their kids eat the fruits of my labor.
Problem 3, since the siege on Gaza electronic goods have yet to make it to Gaza via the legal outlets. Thus the only stuff you can find is the stuff they get from the tunnels, and the quest for finding a good Egyptian make blender is harsh. The blenders they have in Gaza are all wimpy and are not make for crushing frozen fruits—they are good for making Humus though.
Solution, chop those fruits into small cubes and add more liquid to the mix in order to make it easier for the blender to mix those delights. By this we avoid making chunky smoothies, closer to juice, but not icy smoothie.
Problem 4, this is the hardest one to overcome, fresh orange juice is all but banned in Gaza. We are in the summer season and there are no oranges in town, Israelis no longer sell their orange juice in Gaza, they really made a statement with that one. Gaza does not make orange juice in the summer and the only orangey thing they got is a cool aid like drink—called Tropica if anyone cared.
Solution, in order to get the sour flavor of oranges, I restored to using fresh limes who still grow in the summer in Gaza. A rare commodity but for two dollars you can score a kilo.
Problem 5, frozen yogurt is available in Gaza City, pricey but comes in all fruity flavors and actually some of it is comparable to what we buy at the local Safeway. The challenge however is in transporting a pound of frozen yogurt from downtown Gaza to my town of Beit Lahia, a 20 minutes ride and five minutes walk in the blazing summer.
Solution, buy the frozen yogurt late at night or just make my smoothies at a relatives house that lives in the area where I can buy the frozen yogurt.
Problem 6, mom wouldn’t let me use the kitchen, it is her “territory“ and she wouldn’t let others cramp her style and use her kitchen ware.
Solution, offered mom to wash the dishes and clean up after myself she generously agreed to let me use the kitchen and the blender.
By this I now have overcome the acts of politics and nature that are designed to keep my away from enjoying my all time favorite delicacy in Gaza. Making one litter of Smoothies in Gaza costs an arm and a leg, but drinking it with loved ones in Gaza is priceless.