Wishing everyone a sweet and very happy Passover!
What are you making for Passover? A la muestra!, my legacy Passover recipe collection, long out of circulation (just like me), is back this year in a beautiful new edition that makes me smile, with revised commentary, larger fonts and photos, some adjustments to the menus and recipes, new serving suggestions, some interactivity with the blog, and my usual meticulous instructions that are written to ensure your results are not only delicious, but true to the authentic techniques, flavors and textures of classic Sephardic cooking from Rhodes. That’s a real revision! Continue reading
Some people learn best through direct experience.
Three years ago, I sat in a fluorescent orange kitchen in the northwestern corner of Spain one bleak, gloomy, miserable day in March, pouring over a then-new book about Passover, whose very existence drove home to me how very far I had roamed from my culture in search of my roots. Three weeks later when the holiday arrived, missing my family and my traditions for one season too many, I decided I was celebrating Passover however I could, no matter what.
Deeply embittered and still in shock after losing everything I had – including an eye – to cruel events in Catalunya, I had embarked almost a year earlier on the newest phase of an open-ended roots journey around Iberia, hoping for any information that would explain why Spain kept beating me to a pulp, wondering what terrible thing my Spanish ancestors must have done for my karma to be so unrelentingly awful in my adopted country, because there was no rational explanation for any of it. Continue reading
When it’s cold, gray and pouring rain outdoors, it’s a treat to be indoors pouring over a cookbook full of warm inspiration from sunnier places. Lately I’ve been doing just that in a tiny rural town in Galicia, where I’ve been on an extended visit since last summer, wrestling my ancestors and reacclimating, after fifteen years in the Mediterranean, to an Atlantic climate. Sunny Portugal may be a stone’s throw from my doorstep, but winter here has felt more like the Orkneys (right now it feels like Siberia) – minus a crackling fire, or good scotch, to keep me warm.
For that, I’ve got Jennifer Abadi’s new cookbook, Too Good to Passover: Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia, and Europe, and so far, it’s doing a fine job.
A good idea is only as good as your ability to get it done, so I was pleased to see this book finished at last after nine years in the making. At more than 670 pages, it was a huge undertaking, and worth the long wait. Abadi, author of A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes from Grandma Fritzie’s Kitchen, was relentless in her pursuit of Passover memoirs, family traditions, and recipes from communities of the non-Ashkenazic world – many of them not often heard from, or even about, or now only extant in exile. What began as a simple inquiry into different Passover traditions (Abadi’s original idea was to build a framework for recipes she teaches in her cooking classes), became a commitment to honor the communities and families that shaped them.