This is a guest post from Kira Nemirovsky, Production Editor at Academic Studies Press. Kira shares her experience cooking recipes from Sephardi: Cooking the History. Recipes of the Jews of Spain and the Diaspora, from the 13th Century to Today by Hélène Jawhara Piñer, forthcoming this spring, for Purim this year.
This Purim I used the privilege of working as Production Editor at Academic Studies Press in a completely new way: I cooked from the proofs. Not that I used the paper with printed text as an ingredient or to make fire but having the early access to the content of one of our forthcoming titles, Sephardi: Cooking the History. Recipes of the Jews of Spain and the Diaspora, from the 13th Century to Today by Hélène Jawhara Piñer, I went through the PDF on my screen and selected four recipes which looked easy to cook and delicious—thanks to the seductive photos the author made for the book. Indeed these dishes were quick and simple, and with no ingredients too exotic for a regular supermarket.
As is probably the case for most Ashkenazim, I was always secretly jealous of Sephardi food: it seemed brighter, bolder, less nostalgic and more cosmopolitan to someone raised on gefilte fish and latkes. And making it for the first time, I really enjoyed cooking with fresh vegetables, a lot of greens and spices, and sugar reserved for desert only. It took me just about two hours to cook:
Sweet fried eggplants to break the fast (most appropriate after the Fast of Esther)
Fidāwīsh: Short vermicelli noodles with tuna, saffron, and mint
Makābīb la’nūhā al-yahūd: Meatballs cursed by the Jews
Maimonides Cake with fresh lemon juice
An additional benefit was that the recipes and Hélène’s historical commentary printed along with them provide great material for entertaining at the table: telling your guests why these dishes have such weird names, which personalities from Jewish history are associated with them, and from which corners of the wide Sephardi world did these recipes come starts a great dinner conversation.
Kira Nemirovsky is Production Editor at Academic Studies Press.
Sephardi: Cooking the History by Hélène Jawhara Piñer is now available for preorder wherever you get your books.