Vegetables

Vegetables

By
Paola Gavin
Contains
24 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
9781787130425
Photographer
Mowie Kay

‘Hunger is the best seasoning’ JEWISH PROVERB

The Jews are well known for their love of vegetables, especially the artichoke and the aubergine – so much so that in Italy the aubergine was often historically referred to as ‘the food of the Jews’. Middle Eastern Jews have been enthusiastic onion and garlic eaters since Biblical times. And Jews everywhere from India to North Africa enjoy stu‚ffed vegetables, fritters, croquettes and especially sweet and sour vegetables. In fact many Italian sweet and sour dishes are named all’ebraica or alla giudea (Jewish style).

Jewish merchants from Spain were instrumental in introducing vegetables from the New World – tomatoes, corn, beans and potatoes, as well as sweet and hot peppers – to the rest of the Mediterranean. Jews were quick to adopt these and, when the Sephardim †fled Spain during the Inquisition, they took these new vegetables too, along with the knowledge of how to prepare them.

Vegetables play an important part in many Jewish holiday celebrations. Simple stews made of vegetables or pulses are traditionally served to break the fast of Tisha Be-Av, when the eating of meat or ‰fish is prohibited. All kinds of stu‚ffed vegetables or vegetable stews are made for Sukkot, the Harvest Festival. Ashkenazi Jews often serve holishkes (stu‚ffed cabbage) and Algerian Jews make loubia (white beans simmered in spicy tomato sauce), while Balkan Jews prepare a mixed vegetable stew called giuvech. During Rosh Hashanah, green vegetables such as spinach, green beans, cabbage, courgettes and broad beans are served to symbolize rebirth and renewal. In Tunisia, broad beans are served at the start of most Jewish festivals: since they are traditionally known as a food of the poor, they serve as a reminder of the dispossessed and less fortunate in the world; it is also said that the bean represents the Jew, and the pod is a symbol of divine protection.

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