This year’s Astricon took place in Atlanta, Georgia. Now, the only thing that I know about Atlanta was: it’s at the southern part of the United States, the Atlanta Asterisk Users Group is one of the biggest users’ group for Asterisk in the world, Bryan Johns of Digium is from the Atlanta area and that Southern Cuisine is considered to be very good.

Now, Southern Cuisine is really good (I’ll get to that shortly), but Southern Hospitality is something different altogether. Till today, I’ve been to several parts of the US. I’ve been to Manhattan, Boston, Phoenix, Washington, Denver, San Fransisco, San Jose, Detroit, Ann Arbor and Miami. Now, I have to admit, in none of the listed states had I ever been approached by the owner of the restaurant to check how the table is. In every “non-chain” restaurant I’ve been to, the owner just stepped over to our table to check out how we are doing. And this is not your ordinary “How’s the food? – good, bye” conversation, each time the owner seems to be genuinely interested in our well being, how we feel and even more.

So, southern hospitality gets my two thumbs up – there’s something to learn from it.

Now, regarding the cuisine. I didn’t have much time to enjoy the local cuisine, however, being in Atlanta with my colleague Eric (and his parents the came to visit all the way from Florida) surely helped to narrow things down in that respect. According to the information we had, one of the best places to eat authentic southern cuisine would be Mary Mac’s Tea House. Now, putting aside the multitude of pictures on the walls, depicting various movie starts and various public figures eating at Mari Mac’s, I have one thing to say: They know why they are eating there. Ranging from their crispy “Mudbugs”, through the amazing Sweet Potato Souffle up to their juicy Fried Chicken – what can I say, an experience to be remembered and hopefully experienced again in the future (gotta take my family there at some point in the future).

Earlier that week we’ve eaten at the “White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails” – it’s a brand new place and the food is amazing to say the least. We were a group of 6 people, including Eric Klein (GreenfieldTech), James Body (Truphone), Randy Reznik (vuc.me) and Tim Panton (Voxeo Labs). Each one of us had something else – we all enjoyed our food very much. The place isn’t on the “low cost” range, but definitely worth a visit, their steaks are awesome. In addition, I drank a beer, which I don’t recall its name, that resembled a HeffeWeiser in some form, although, it was tangier and slightly sour – which was very refreshing and new.

All-in-all, Atlanta gets the two thumbs up from me ūüôā

As some of you already know, the Passover (Pesach) holiday had just passed, and today is the ever so sweet holiday of the Mimona. Now, the Mimona holiday was brought to Israel by the¬†Morocco¬†Jewish community, and had become very popular among all Israeli’s in the past 20 years.

I couldn’t help but stop and think a little about the essence of Jewish holidays, and try to see what stands behind each one. So, as I was sitting down and more or less trying to think of the holidays of the year, I couldn’t help but notice an alarming fact: Most, if not all, Jewish holidays revolve around Food – and usually, quite a lot of it.¬†Lets take the month of Tishrei, the first month of the year. We celebrate 3 different holidays within a single month. New years, followed by Yom-Kipuer (not really a celebration) followed by Sukot. Each holiday, with its traditional 4-5 course meal.

Shortly after Tishrei, we have the month of Kislev and Chanuka – the holiday solely dedicated to fried food! Imagine, a holiday celebrating the donut, with as many toppings and combinations you may of for a donut.

Then we take a small break, coming to the month of Shvat, with the ever popular Tu-Beshvat, mostly a celebration of the land, when people eat all kinds of dried fruit, nuts and berries – a festivity to the eye, and a serious sugar rush.

We then come to Hadar with the ever festive Purim holiday. Again, sweets all around, and I mean not only sweets, it’s actually a Mitzva to go about and get completely wasted from Wine and alcohol – which is usually not a common practice in Jewish holidays.

After Purim we get to Nitzan, with the ever so great Passover. Matza balls, potatoes, HUGE family festive dinners – and of course no bread, just Matza. However, the fact that we don’t eat bread in that holiday doesn’t mean that it’s low on carbs, actually, a single Matza is like eating 5 pieces of breads – Amazing isn’t it.

After Passover we have Lag Baomer, which basically means lighting up camp fires in memory of the¬†rebellion, however, in modern Israel was translated to: Let’s BBQ dude, and eat as much meat as we can – oh, did I mention the ever festive Kartuchkalach? basically a potato that was cooked under the camp fire, wrapped in tin-foil.

After that we have Shavout, again a festivity of the land, coming back from the anciant times, where the field owners would leave some of the product of the field for the poor people to gather. In this holiday, we eat mainly dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc). In modern time, this holiday was replaced by the ever dreaded MEGA Italian Dinner, a celebration of cream based sauces, and as much pizza as you can gobble down.

Well, if go about and examine each one in detail, you would notice a similar pattern: “We suffered because someone tried to kill us.¬†Hooray, they didn’t succeed – LETS EAST!”

Signing off with a Mufleta, Happy Holidays.