Tag Archives: bread

Q&A: Bread vs. Rice

Dear Janet:

In my father-in-law’s family they always served rice instead of Challah for Shabbat. Is that an Izmir tradition? Victor thinks it is Sephardic; however, I’ve been to other Sephardic homes that I believed had Challah. I’ve tried to look up the history but have hit an end. I’d love it if you could assist. Thank you in advance. – Lael Hazan

Victor is partially right, Lael. Challah per se – the braided loaf – is not a Sephardic tradition, and as one of the most elemental staples of the Sephardic diet, rice is served on Shabbat as on most other days. If a Sephardic cook were to choose one over the other to serve the family, the choice would be a rice pilaf of some sort; the bread is the extra. We don’t think of rice as a bread substitute, nor vice versa.

That said, festive breads have a distinct place on the Sephardic table, Continue reading


Filed under History, Your Questions Answered

Me and my big ideas

Recently a reader questioned my theory about the origin of  ensaimada, a traditional pastry from Mallorca made with lard that I believe began life as challa, or perhaps as rosca  (see my post about the book ‘Dulce lo vivas’).  Okay, challenged more than questioned it.  She called my idea far fetched.  Hmm.  Well, I love a good challenge, and especially where Sephardic vs. Christian or secular Spanish gastronomic traditions are concerned it can be challenging to determine which is the chicken and which is the egg.  But there is a method to my madness, which I explained in my reply.   For others who may also wonder how I draw certain conclusions (and who don’t make a habit of reading blog comments), I’ve repeated the conversation here. Continue reading


Filed under History