As a general rule, Sephardic custom doesn’t call much for cooking with wine. There are exceptions, of course, and these can be unusual enough as to impact the name of the recipe in question. During Passover, any wine consumed must be ‘new’; this means using either grape juice or young wine that is kosher for Passover. The mustachudo gets its name from this specific ingredient: musto in Ladino; mosto in Spanish and Italian, must in English. The name has absolutely nothing to do with ‘little moustaches’, despite the similar-sounding root word. Continue reading
Monthly Archives: February 2009
CUAJADO (“cua-XA-do”) quiere decir tanto “coagulado” como “con grumos”, y describe una clase de sabrosos platos hechos al horno, que combinan queso fresco suave (como queso cottage o queso de Burgos) con otros quesos más o menos salados, muchos huevos, un poco de harina de matza (pan ácimo) para ligar la masa y cantidades copiosas de verduras frescas con alto contenido en agua: espinacas; calabacines; berenjenas; puerros; o tomates. Algunas recetas usan pan para ligar la masa y otras usan patatas, dependiendo de la verdura elegida y de la tradición particular o de la preferencia personal. La textura es suave pero no demasiado floja, algo así como un sabroso pudín de pan en el que resalta, no el pan, sino las verduras ralladas, cortadas a tiras o machacadas. El queso se usa de forma que confiera sabor sin dominar en la textura. Continue reading
To everything there is a season, and a reason. Sephardic custom - all Spanish custom - is to finish everyday meals with a very simple but specific category of desserts: things soft, light, sweet and simple. It’s the time for puddings, custards, flans and simple fruit dishes, cold in summer, warm in winter. Cakes and more elaborate desserts - and lots of them! – are for festive occasions. This was certainly the norm in our house, and I suppose it served us well by establishing sound eating habits with room for the occasional exercise in outrageous excess (When we were growing up, large and lavish birthday or holiday meals were immediately followed by a second meal, equally large and lavish, called dessert). Continue reading
Is it really Sephardic? Is it Sephardic enough?
Ethnic food is born and evolves out of common cultural experience and worldview. There’s no law against creating your own modern Sephardic recipes and no need to think you can’t do a riff on someone else’s version of a traditional one, either. We can be become so obsessed with preserving our culture that we tend to deny ourselves permission to experiment, or to accept someone else’s interpretation of something as valid, even if they’re from within the same culture. This holds true for any people (but probably with a higher level of anxiety when they’re propagandized as being extinct!). But it’s openness and experimentation that keep all cultures alive and interesting, and that can also get things back on track if they’ve lost their connection to a basic principle. If you do lose touch with the fundamentals of your own culinary heritage, if you start using too many shortcuts and too many substitutions, you deviate so far from your roots that you’re left not so much with a pale imitation of the real article as with something virtually unrecognizable. Continue reading