Monday, March 26, 2012

At Pina Chama Chocolate Palace

I usually serve at the Gush Etzion Piña Chama (Soldiers Hospitality Hut) with my friend Jill. Unfortunately Jill's father is ill (refua shelaima) and I find myself doing our shift on my own.
I miss Jill, and our chats between jeep-loads of soldiers, but I'm holding my own.
I've got a "patent" as they say. I lay out a dozen cups with a teaspoon of coffee inside each. In half I put one teaspoon of sugar, ready for the majority of soldiers that like coffee with one sugar. There are plenty that want two!
I try to cut the cake like Jill - cake is her specialty. She makes cake platters with picture perfect rows of black and white delicacies. She alternates brownies and vanilla cakes, chocolate iced and maple walnut.
Cakes for Piña Chama come in fresh every morning, made by residents of Gush Etzion. And boy, at 10:30 AM when the fresh cakes arrive with their smells of Gan Eden, they are hard to resist.
Jill puts together these treats like a work of art. The soldiers absolutely ooh when they see her tray. I haven't been so lucky. I start with stripes of flavor, but everyone wants the chocolate, and the vanilla orphaned cakes start clumping together.
Just as they were choosing chocolate brownies from the tray, I asked two soldiers if they'd rather a tray comprised solely of chocolate cakes and brownies. Surprisingly, they said, "No!" They like the choice.
Go figure.

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