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Josh Tetenbaum
Jul 19, 2021
In Resources
After our discussion this morning, I fell into an internet wormhole about food in post-conviviencia Spain, and found this article about this exact topic: The purchase of certain ingredients (e.g. eggplants, chick peas) or certain spices (e.g. coriander, saffron), or the aroma of a dish cooked with olive oil were enough to alert neighbours to possible heresy. Conversos and Moriscos regularly cooked with olive oil rather than lard (pork fat), preferred by Christians. Moriscos, like Christians, also used clarified butter in cooking; Conversos did not since Jewish dietary laws forbid mixing meat and dairy products. There is a telling episode in chapters 7 and 8 of the early 16th-century dramatized novel, La Lozana Andaluza, where the Andalusian-born Lozana –recently arrived in Rome— meets some Conversa women, originally from Spain. These are reluctant to say much about themselves because they don’t know Lozana. So they decide to ask her to help them prepare some sweet fritters or couscous (alcuzcuzu). The test is whether she will use water or olive oil in the preparation. If she uses olive oil, then she will be accepted as “one of us.” Lozana passes with flying colours. Getting ready to prepare the fritters, she asks: “And do you have coriander? Let someone (i.e. me) have a bit of good flour and lots of oil, if it’s good, and I’ll make you a basinful that you’ll never forget even when you are dead” (Chapter 9, 53).
Josh Tetenbaum

Josh Tetenbaum

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