Here’s my story, even if it isn’t what you expected.

I never made it to Israel. I got as far as Newark, when root canal complications got the best of me.

Swelling, pain, fever – the full Cleveland. And flying to the East Coast the day after major root canal work was probably, in retrospect, a bad idea. In a diagnostic epiphany, my prescient physician B. Hilberman pronounced it a case of “bad mazel.”

So I cancelled my flight to Tel Aviv. Cancelled my original return flight to SFO, and –cobb.jpg after paying handsomely for the privilege – made a new return flight reservation.
Then I killed time by 1) seeing the Francis Bacon exhibit at the Met, 2) consuming pizza at Otto in the Village, and 3) mega-dosing ibuprofen, Cipro and lying flat on my back.

In the meantime, I got to know the lounge staff at the Hilton Newark Airport (Cobb salad dinner, left), and the labyrinthean off-ramps of the New Jersey Turnpike. Heavy skies, leaden humidity, the look of perpetual acid rain — the northeast reminded me all over again just why I live in California.

So, I have no tips for great dining in Jerusalem. Alas. But I can reveal that a subtle and delicate balance of anti-inflammatory pain killers, high powered antibiotics and steady doses of red wine can indeed help win the fight against pain and mid-career disappointment.