Cookery

Talking about a “Jewish cuisine” is rather complicated: we can say, in fact, that a unique culinary tradition common to all Jews does not exist. On the contrary each community has a dietary culture which is the result of the opening towards the sorrounding reality and the local tradition and from the adaption to their own territory.

It is easily thought, for instance, the big difference between the Askhenazi cuisine from Northern Europe and the Sephardic one, rich and Mediterranean, even in the common respect for kasherùth.

The Jewish gastronomical tradition is very rich also in Italy and it changes from region to region reflecting the local peculiarities of this country.

In such a panorama the Judean-Venetian cuisine is maybe one of the richest, thanks to the cosmopolitan peculiarity which has always characterized both the Jewish community and the Republic hosting it.

The Askhenazi Jews have, for instance, introduced in Venice, the typical dishes of Northern Europe, particularly those based on goose meat: one of the most peculiar dishes is the fugazza cole gribole, a savoury bannock pounded with fried slices of goose’s skin, called in Venetian language gribole. Also the melina, a bundle of pastry filled up, according to traditions, with mince meat of beef or turkey is also of Askhenazi tradition.

The levantine merchants, dealing with East introduced in the Venetian cuisine spices and dried fruit coming from those places such as saffron and raisins: the zalo (yellow) rice ,prepared still today by many families, is, for instance, browned with goose fat and enriched with saffron and it is surely the result of the meeting of Askhenazi tradition with their Oriental taste for spices.

The ponentine merchants of Iberian peninsula were, on the other hand, the ones to bring into Venetian tables, colours and tastes tipically of the Mediterranean area, very closet o those of Sicilian and Spanish cuisine. It seems that the Ponentines themselves brought in Venice the Spanish use of the sweet sour preparation of stockfish, opening the way to one of the Venetian cusine typical dishes, the sarde in saor. (marinated sardines). The original linking of raisins and pine kernels, which characterizes such a dish and many other Venetian specialities as the sweet sour soles or Carnival’s frittole (sweet pancakes), entered soon in the local dietary tradition maybe just tank to the Sephardic merchants: we find the same tradition, in fact, both in Levantine and in Sicilian traditions.

Another very famous local dish the bigoli in salsa, wonderful black “spaghetti” flavoured with anchovies and onion sauce comes from the Jewish tradition.

The gastronomical borrowings between the Jewish Venetian community and the surrounding society could involve also the riche Venetian mainland: a tasty example of this are the many disse based on pumpkin refashioned by Jewish tradition as the suca frita(fried pumpkin), the fried zucchinis the suca desfada (broken pumpkin) or the renowned suca baruca o suca santa, (the holy pumpkin) with its strechted out shape, whose name seems to come from Hebrew (barùkh = holy).

The Jewish Venetian confectionery is not less important or less riche: various and tasty cakes and biscuits are suggested for each festivity.

For Jewish Passover, Pèsach, during which it is prohibited to use leaven you can choose among azzime dolci (sweet matsoth), tasty biscuits enriched with fennel seeds or anuseeds, àpere, delicious and soft round cakes made up with flour, sugar and eggs, bìse (after Venetian bissa, i.e.water-snake) which get their name from their peculiar form as an S, anezìni, flavoured with aniseed and sucarìni or zuccherini, dry biscuits made as a flat doughnut sprinkled with sugar.

The use of almonds in the Venetian confectionery has been intensified thanks to the Sephardic. The example par excellence are the impàde, long pastry biscuits filled with a sugar, eggs and almonds dough. Such cakes were brought in Venice by ponentine Sephardic Jews and surely have a relationship with the Portuguese empadas (= “filled- in cakes”) filled with fish or meat. Also the mandole or mandorle, very similar in the look and in the consistency to the classical soft macaroons, are simply made with almonds, sugar and eggs.

Another cakes of Sephardic origin is the bolo, a soft long shaped doughnut pounded with flour, raisins, eggs and sugar that is eaten during the festivity of Sukkòth or served with lemonade or coffee, at the end of the 25-hourfast for the Day of Atonement, Yòm Kippùr. Brought into Italy by Spanish Jews the bolo is widespread also in other regions with the name of bollo or buccellato.

The cake par excellence for the festivity of Purim is, instead, the recie de Aman (Haman’s ears) This is the name of small triangular pastry bundles filled up with jam, coming from Askhenazi Hamàn Tashen (=Haman’s ears), , generally filled up with almonds, poppy seeds, fruit compote or chocolate.

Their name reminds the wicked Hamàn, whose terrible plan to ex terminate Jewish people was foiled by queen ’Esthèr.

Now we have nothing to say but wish you bete’avòn – bon appetit!!

Tasting these specialities is an unique and delicious experience: you can easily make getting a Judean-Venetian cookery books and enjoying to try someone or, even simplier, you can take advantage of a guided tour to the synagogues to buy these and other typical products at the baker’s, and at kashèr cafeteria in the ghetto.