A Drizzle of Honey: The Lives and Recipes of Spain's Secret Jews

by Gwyneth Doland

December 9 - December 15, 1999

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A Drizzle of Honey: The Lives and Recipes of Spain's Secret Jews
by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson (St. Martin's Press, hardcover, $29.95)

In the Spanish villages of the 15th century, Christians, Muslims and Jews were all living together in a tenuous balance when the church began the Inquisition, a full scale campaign to root out heretics. Although thousands of Jews had already been forcibly converted, privately they were keeping alive as many of their customs as possible, including the observance of holidays and the traditional foods and practices associated with them. There are no Jewish cookbooks from this period; however, the records of testimony given during the Spanish Inquisition trials do give insight into the lives of these "secret Jews." The testimony was given mostly by servants and neighbors and did not include actual recipes, but it provided lists of ingredients and occasional sketchy details of preparation known to be "typically Jewish."

Gitlitz and Davidson have combined this information with knowledge of the general cookery of the region at that time and tried to recreate as many of these dishes as possible, producing a book of dishes that can be made in a modern kitchen with readily available ingredients. These recipes are probably not destined to become weekly fixtures on your dinner table, but the book is fascinating, and it just might inspire you to make a few new/old things. Why not start this week and make some buñuelos, fried fritters similar to sopapillas that have become a Chanukah tradition among Sephardic communities all over the world.

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