Susan Barocas

When Food Betrayed the Jews

Today, when we eat a sopapilla in a Mexican restaurant, enjoy a slice of sponge cake or an almond cookie, or share Spanish tapas with friends, we don’t recognize that these and other dishes can be traced back through centuries to Spain’s medieval Jews and the recipes that Spanish Jewish women carried when they fled religious persecution, scattering over much of the known world.

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When Food Betrayed the Jews

The articles in this special section:

  • Jon

    What a wonderful article. Time to dust off some old Sephardic recipes and start cooking!

  • Raquel

    As a person in the process of converting to Judaism and coming from a Filipino background, trying out Sephardic food has been like memories embedded in that food. Having my first borecas, or bimuelos for Hanukkah remind me both of my background and heritage, as well as the hidden Jewish influences that have been given to cultures coming from Spain and to it’s former colonies, in part from the Conversos (New Christians) who fled to the colonies to hide. From eggplant dishes to fried donuts (buñuelos, carioca) to swirls of ensaimada, Sephardic food is magical and so underrated in influence.

  • Ana K.

    I read somewhere (I forget where, maybe David Gitlitz’ book?) that the Inquisition records do not show that they were looking for not mixing meat and milk. Were they not aware of that law or was meat so rare that it was not worth looking for it?

  • Deborah Prinz

    Chocolate consumption also betrayed crypto-Jews in New Spain/Mexico. More about how Sephardim were outed to the Inquisition through their chocolate may be found in “On the Chocolate Trail” with credit to the work of Ferry and Hordes. The book also contains 25 historical and contemporary recipes. (