Can I have something else instead? Illustration: Nadav Yahal
Can I have something else instead? Illustration: Nadav Yahal

Can I have something else instead?

An Israeli-ism born out of the days of the kibbutz dining hall

This question, “mah yesh bimkom?” in Hebrew (when the word “instead” (bimkom) was written in all caps), could be commonly heard in the kibbutz dining room days of the past, when all members of the kibbutz ate exactly the same thing (courtesy of that days kitchen staff – some of whose cooking ability was questionable to non-existent).

This culinary uniformity was ruined by vegetarian members, as well as those with sensitive stomachs or just picky eaters, for whom alternative dishes were prepared – usually a quiche or some kind of vegetable patties. The ability to receive an “instead” dish became a way for some members to diversify their menu, but also put them at risk of looking like spoiled pests.

In some kibbutzim, this alternative menu was affectionately called “menu bimi” (from the word bimkom). The name of the dog ״bimi” also come from that same word, a dog at the center of a book by Miriam Yalan-Shteklis of the same name.

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