“Detourism: La newsletter di Venezia”, the official Town of Venice Tourism Office Newsletter, is inviting us to taste some Jewish cooking in town! Enjoy your reading!
Venice’s Jewish cooking is descended from kashrut, Judaism’s food laws, as well as from the extraordinarily diverse traditions of the Jews who settled in the ghetto over the centuries: the Germans, the Italians, the Levantini (from the Ottoman Empire) and the Ponentini (from Spain and Portugal).
In the Venice’s ghetto, the two main Jewish styles of cooking, Sephardic (originating from around the Mediterranean in the Middle East and North Africa and extending to Asia) and Ashkenazic (from Northern and Eastern Europe) blended together, combining flavours from the Venetian cooking tradition.
Classic dishes of Venice’s Ghetto
The Ashkenazi Jews introduced in Venice dishes based on goose meat. Goose fat were put into many recipes, both salty and sweet, and goose meat were used to make salamis (a tradition which is still in place).
The Levantine merchants, who were allowed to engage in trade with the East, introduced in the Venetian cuisine a range of spices and flavorings such as saffron and raisins: a traditional dish is frisensal, a big wheel of pasta (usually tagliatelle) baked in goose fat, and filled with nuts, raisins, and sausages, combining sweet and salty flavours in a dish with meat.
The Ponentine merchants, from the Iberian peninsula, on the other hand, brought in Venice typical Mediterranean flavours: they introduced sweet and sour recipes, opening the way to one of the Venetian classic dishes, sarde in saòr (sweet and sour sardines, with onions, raisins and pine nuts).
Jewish style recipes
In the area of vegetable cookery, the Jewish-style aubergines is certainly one of the most popular dishes of the Venetian Jews. Aubergines, which are commonly used in a wide variety of Jewish recipes in the Mediterranean region, are finely sliced and left to dry in the open air before being deep-fried in oil with a clove of garlic, and served as a summery starter with melon slices.
Pumpkin is also commonly used by Venetian Jews: many dishes made with pumpkin, typical of the Venetian hinterland, were adapted by the Jews to their own cuisine, such as suca frita (deep-fried pumpkin), suca desfada, and suca baruca (warty pumpkin) also known as suca santa (holy pumpkin).
Traditional Jewish desserts
Traditional desserts of Venetian Jews includes a large number of delicious cakes, pastries and cookies. For Passover, Venetian Jews usually make a rich array of unleavened sweets: azzime dolci (sweet matzah), tasty biscuits enriched with fennel seeds or anuseeds, àpere, delicious soft round cakes made up with flour, sugar and eggs, bìse (after Venetian bissa, i.e.water-snake) which get their name from their s-shape, anezìni, flavoured with aniseed, and sucarìni or zuccherini, biscuits made as a flat doughnut sprinkled with sugar.
Other traditional Venetian Jewish sweets are: bolo, a sweet bread (made with flour, eggs, sugar, oil, candied fruits and raisins), usually eaten at the end of the fast of Yom Kippur,
one of the most sacred dates in the Jewish religious calendar. And récie di Aman, ‘Haman’s ears’, triangular treats made of dough with fruit jam in the middle, traditionally eaten at Purim, a Jewish holiday celebrated much like Carnival (and occurring at almost the same time of the year). ‘Haman’s ears’ represent a good example of cross-cultural food practise in Venice, as they are very similar to galani, traditional Venetian Carnival sweets.
We are proud to publish some selected contents of such newsletter (see previous post: “Detourism for the Up and Down the Bridges“). On our website, in several episodes, we will only present some samples (see all posts in our archive page “Detourism Newsletter“), but the invitation addressed to all the friends of the Up and Down the Bridges is to subscribe to the newsletter directly.
Special thanks to the Councillor for Tourism for having enthusiastically welcomed this new important collaboration between TGS Eurogroup and the Tourism Office of the Town of Venice and for giving us the precious opportunity to publish on the pages of this blog some extracts from this newsletter, both in Italian and in English.
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