As Israel celebrates its 63rd birthday, locals dusted off their barbecue grills, known locally as a mangal; sought a shady spot in the park or perhaps a highway median; and then cooked great quantities of meat and poultry including pargiyot, often translated as spring chickens, a cut not well-known outside Israel. A Hebrew lesson for Yom Ha’atzmaut, and our opportunity to figure out some puzzling Hebrew terminology.
According to chef and food writer Janna Gur, the huge demand for meat both suitable and affordable for grilling is what brought about the local product known as ‘pargit’, singular for pargiyot, which is not actually a different breed of poultry. It’s just meat sliced off the thighs of regular chickens, but the higher fat content makes it much better for grilling than lean chicken breasts.
As for the mangal, a small portable stove or brazier whose name is Turkish in origin, and probably borrowed from when the Ottomans had set up shop here, the word means charcoal. In modern Hebrew, it has come to mean the stove used for grilling, as well as the actual barbecuing event. And now, on any given weekend or holiday, scores of Israelis can be found, frantically fanning – preferably with a folded piece of cardboard – the coals in order to produce perfectly grilled meat for their family and friends.
No parades for us – at least not for this holiday. Happy grilling and happy birthday Israel.