CANNAREG­GIO, A BRIDGE BE­TWEEN EAST AND WEST

All About Italy (USA) - - Hidden Venice | All About Italy - Donatella Sal­vati

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

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