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Friday, March 6, 2020

The annual field trip and the infamous 'snack' obsession

Don't be fooled outdoorsy activity:
The main takeaway was much less lofty
On our annual field trip!
We had a great time, but ...
...note the real star of the show: The "Hatif"
Here in Israel, all school year builds up to the "annual field trip." The excitement is palpable as the day draws near and school children are all atwitter about the big day - or actually a specific aspect of the day.

Mommy was excited to find out where the tour would be so, one by one, she asked us about the tiyul shnati (annual field trip).

Lucas: "The teachers told us we can bring two hatifim (snacks)."

Mommy: "Sure," she shook her head in confusion. "But what did they say about the place you are going?"

Lucas: "I don't remember."

Well, he is a boy. Mommy moved on to Raia for more information and asked about the field trip.

Raia: "Maya H. is going to share her hatif with me. I'm going to share one of my hatifim with Maya B. And I'm going to sit with Miral on the bus and we will share our hatifim!"

And on she continued about who was going to share what snack and with whom and how many she could bring. Still no information on the actual trip.

Yes, every year around the annual field trip or any other shorter field trip to a museum or the zoo, hatif obsession sets in.

Hatif is very simply translated as "snack," but on the day of the annual field trip, it absorbs an ethereal, galactic meaning that mesmerizes children all across the land. On these days, hatif means: "Any food item previously banned that shall be temporarily allowed for a specific amount of time."

True translation: Junk food.

More specifically, candy, chocolate, a bag of chips and other such junk that is not necessarily allowed at school and possibly also at home. Hence, the children are agog over the lifted ban and look forward to those few hours of bliss. They think it means that their parents are obligated to comply with the new regulation.

The actual field trip was a hike on the outskirts of Jerusalem at a nature trail currently arrayed with budding spring flowers and the puffy white balls of almond blossoms adorning trees like snow. We had beautiful weather and I endeared myself to one of the guides.

Mommy wondered if we noticed any of this because, almond blossoms be dammed, the main report from the field trip was about the hatifim. 

"So-and-so brought this hatif." "So-and-so dropped his hatif and cried." "So-and-so shared her hatif but So-and-so did not share her hatif."

And so on.

Mommy tried to outsmart us and found spelt pretzels with sesame seeds on sale and she bought the big bags, knowing that sharing is part of the obsession. The carob-filled spelt wafers were also on sale so they also went into our backpacks. We were oblivious to the fact that these were not white flour and chocolate and so we felt adequately illegal. The teachers recommended packing an extra lunch for us as well, but mommy has learned her lesson by now -- there would be so much snacking that we would not eat real food. And truly, one sandwich was more than sufficient and not even fully consumed.

With the field trip behind us, the ban on hatifim has been reinstated - at least until Purim (next week) when the entire holiday revolves around all things junk food and costumes.

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