Libyan-Jewish Cuisine in Italy

April 01 2011 - 5:05 PM

Qaddafi was able to basically eliminate the last 500 Jews in the country when he took power in the 1970s but the Jewish exodus from Libya which began in the late 196os had the destination of Italy, the same place many Spanish Jews settled following the Inquisition in the 1490s. The Atlantic has the story of the culture by way of the food. “Cucina ebraica romana” – Roman Jewish cuisine? Awesome!

The cucina ebraica romana (Roman Jewish cuisine) is famous among Romans and visitors alike for its carciofi alla giudia (Jewish-style–deep fried–artichokes), fiori di zucca (fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella), and aliciotti e indivia (anchovies with endive). These dishes, widely available in restaurants parc aquatique gonflable throughout Rome, are seasonal, generally made from local ingredients, and, above all, kosher.

Far less well-known in Rome, but no less important, are the typical dishes of the Libyan Jewish tradition, called the cucina ebraica tripolina. It is found almost exclusively in homes, especially on T’fina (Shabbat). Its protagonists are hearty stews served with couscous. Cinnamon, cumin, caraway seed, paprika, turmeric, parsley, and hot chilies play supporting roles.