CANNAREGGIO, A BRIDGE BETWEEN EAST AND WEST
The vitality and prestige of the Jewish community have long influenced various aspects of civic life, giving birth to an encounter of cultures and traditions from all over the world: the true wealth of the Venetian patrimony. Among all of the aspects, the most particular is without a doubt cuisine, in which diverse traditions, representing the histories of age-old civilizations, live happily together in delicious dishes.
“The Ghetto is separate from Venice, but at the same time is a concentration of Venice” Paolo Rumiz
It’s no accident that the most representative recipes of the lagoon derive from Jewish gastronomic traditions, both Mediterranean and “northern” in origin and united by the wide availability of herbs and spices available in Venice due both to its pivotal role in the international spice trade and to the creation of private gardens in the area of the ghetto and other Venetian islands. Jewish cuisine revolves, naturally, around the concept of kosher food, which is to say, adapted according to the laws of the Torah as applied to daily life by the rabbis, even if there is no other place in the world with such an overlapping of customs.
In the ghetto, the sober cuisine of the Ashkenazi Jews from Germany encounters the more exuberant culinary tradition of the Sephardic Jews from southern France and Spain, as well as the contribution from the Levantine diaspora and many other heterogeneous presences linked to maritime commerce.
The iconic dish of Venetian Jewish cuisine is “sarde in saor,” a sweet and sour preparation of sardines where vinegar and onion meld with raisins and pine nuts into an ambrosial delight, but there are many other specialties in this particular ethnic vein. Another quintessential Venetian dish of absolute Jewish derivation is “bigoi in salsa” (thick fresh spaghetti-like pasta with a sauce of salted sardines and onion), and then there are the sweet fried fritters such as “fritelle di zucca” made with pumpkin, and the almonds that find wide usage in sweets such as the “impadè,” sweet pastry filled with almonds, sugar and egg—a recipe from Portugal—and the “bolo,” a soft foccaccia with raisins, egg and sugar that is traditionally eaten at the end of the Yom Kippur fast. Five hundred years of history come alive today in the streets of this “city within a city,” in the odors that still pervade the island and in the stories and vicissitudes that every single trampled stone can tell. www.veniceghetto500.org
The unique culinary culture is to be valued as much as the buildings and museums with their important historical and cultural artifacts