Friday Feature: Barbecue Mania!

Friday, May 05, 2006 | 
Nary a spot of green grass was left unoccupied by revelers on Israel’s Independence Day as nearly the entire country headed to the parks for traditional barbecue picnics.

Israelis began claiming ground at parks and forests from the early morning, loaded with picnic foods and grills. Many sites reported full capacity and some were closed to visitors by the afternoon because of lack of space.

Smoke lingered in the air in the country’s capital until late at night. Parks had been packed all day, covered with picnic blankets, grills and large spreads of food.

Israelis celebrate Independence Day with a traditional Middle Eastern barbecue of kebab and other meats complemented by large quantities of pita bread, hummus, and salads. Independence Day follows the somber Memorial Day, when Israelis remember fallen soldiers and civilians victims of terror attacks.

The somber day is quickly replaced by jubilant celebrations. On the eve of Independence Day young people chase each other down in the street with shaving cream. Several fireworks displays are set off as well. The barbecue is the following day.

The population was expected to consume 1,000 tons (2 million pounds) of meat and poultry products on Independence Day this year, according to the Manufacturers Association of Israel. The Israeli public purchases ahead of the "barbecue holiday" 10 million portions of hamburgers, kebabs, steak, sausages and poultry worth approximately 20 million shekels ($4.5 million), the association revealed. The average price of 1 kg. (2.2 pounds) of processed poultry meat stands at 20 shekels ($4.5) nowadays, similar to the price in 2005.

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