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A Drizzle of Honey: The Life and Recipes of Spain's Secret Jews Paperback – Bargain Price, September 25, 2000


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Paperback, Bargain Price, September 25, 2000
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (September 25, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312267304
  • ASIN: B00127SHLO
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,255,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A husband-and-wife team of University of Rhode Island professors presents a cookbook of medieval recipes that is, more significantly, a document of religious persecution during the Spanish Inquisition. Sixteen pages of endnotes and a six-page bibliography attest to its authority. Thousands of Iberian Jews were forced to convert to Christianity in the late 15th century, and while many assimilated, others clung to earlier customs?including dietary edicts. Gitlitz and Davidson report trial testimonies in which crypto-Jews?those who secretly struggled to maintain their Jewish identity and customs?were betrayed by what they ate, what they wouldn't eat and how their food was prepared. Recipes reconstructed for today's kitchens include dishes such as Isabel Gonzalez's Eggplant and Onion Stew and Blanca Ramierez's Meatball Stew. Another revealing dish is Radishes and Stuffed Crop, skin from chicken necks stuffed with radishes and herbs. Many meals reflect a fondness for the sweetness of honey and the savory blend of herbs and spices. They range from Mayor Gonzalez's Cold White Lamb Casserole, made with rose water, cinnamon and almond milk, to five different matzas, including one with mashed chestnuts. Gitlitz and Davidson offer an erudite look into both culinary and Jewish history.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The "secret Jews" are the Iberian Jews who were forcibly converted to Catholicism under the Spanish Inquisition but still maintained Jewish religious practices in the privacy of their homes. Since this was strictly forbidden, the courts devoted a lot of time to ferreting out the "secret Jews," using the testimony of neighbors, servants, and family members. The authors, specialists in Spanish history and culture, have written a meticulously researched scholarly work focusing on this aspect of the Inquisition, using a variety of primary sources but relying mostly on the testimony of those questioned and often sentenced to imprisonment or worse. From these sources, they have re-created dozens of medieval recipes. While their efforts to discover and preserve this aspect of Jewish heritage are laudable, perhaps the idea of a cookbook was misguided. A recipe headnote that concludes "Maria went to the stake on November 20, 1486" is unlikely to make many readers feel like making Maria Sanchez's Greens. For religious/cultural history collections and some specialized cookery collections.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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I was very delighted to read this insightful gastronomic reference.
Sam
Senor de Montoro was a rag merchat in Cordoba, but is most well known as being the converso poet to the Court of Queen Isabel of Castile.
Larry Mark MyJewishBooksDotCom
Whether you try these recipes in your kitchen or not, without a doubt but you will want to read and relish this book from cover to cover.
Lynn Adler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Larry Mark MyJewishBooksDotCom on May 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I came across this in the shelves the other day and was mesmerized. David Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson are a husband and wife team and teachers at the the University of Rhode Island. David is a past winner of the 1996 National Jewish Book Award, and he is a specialist in aljamas (jewish neighborhoods), the converso/crypto Jews, the anusim (forced converts) and the meshumadim (willing coverts). Using cookbooks and Inquisition documents in Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan (including the rare 13th Century Al Andalus cookbook of the Cocina Hispano-Magribi), the authors have recreating over 90 recipes of the Converso jewish community. During the Inquisitions in the Iberian peninsula, Jews and Moslems were killed, exiled, or converted. Some of the converted remained Jewish or Moslem and became Crypto-Jews, Crypto-Moslems, or Conversos. Spain expelled Jews in 1492 (you know, when Columbus sailed the Ocean Blue); Portugal expelled Jews in 1497. The recipes are well categorized, and make use of lamb, beef, fish, eggplant, greens, turnips, chickpeas, as well as mace, cinnamon, ginger, lavender, rue, portulaca, and dozens of other spices. Most recipes include histories and characters of the period, which is the prime motivation to purchase this book. For example, along of the recipes of Beatrice Nunez, we learn that she was arrested in 1485. Her maid turned her in to the Inquisition for the crime of maintaining a kosher kitchen. She also prepared a Sabbath stew of lamb, chickpeas and eggs. Proof enough to have her burned at the stake. Among my favorite recipes is Mayor Gonzalez's Egg and Carrot Casserole. She was imprisoned in 1483 for killing a goose in "the Jewish way.Read more ›
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
My review of this book would have to paraphrase that of "distinctive crypto jewish cusine"--this is the history of my grandmother's kitchen. There had been many indications that my family had had jewish origins, and this book reinforces that belief on every page. I used to think of my grandmother as the "swiss chard queen"; here I learned that it's a primary crypto jewish food, the injestion of which could have led one to be a victim of the inqisition for "judaizing." Not only is it a cookbook, as has been noted elsewhere, but a poignant, close-up history of those unfortunate souls persecuted by the spanish simply because they were jews. The recipes are all do-able and just like grandma used to make.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Courtney L. Lewis on October 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
David Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson have successfully compiled numerous recipes from the medieval timeperiod. As a vegetarian, this book was of little use to me in the kitchen (three-quarters of the recipes are meat based) but if I did eat meat, some of the stews would probably be delicious and easily adapted to a crockpot! The real strength of this book comes from the meticulous scholarship of the authors who give a fascinating glimpse into the lives of conversos (Jews living as Christians for survival). In many of the stories (and a little vignette accompanies each recipe), jealous neighbors or suspicious gentile servants reveal the outcomes of their spying on their neighbors (my favorite being the servant who noted that her mistress must definitely be a Jew since she uncomplainingly leapt into bed with her husband on Friday night in contrast to all the other days of the week!). Gitlitz and Davidson pain an excellent picture of medieval life in close quarters and successfully transmit the constant stress and tension in the lives of these individuals trying to straddle two worlds.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A. Woodley on December 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
What a marvellous, marvellous book. Did I say it was marvellous? Well its simply marvellous. It would be a great asset for people who like historical recipes, but also for those that just like good food. I must admit I have a penchant collecting up old recipes. Up until now I have only ever read English recipes and I had never come across any Jewish cooking before let alone old recipes from Spanish Jews. I just can't believe how wonderful the recipes are and what a fantastic job the authors of this have done in presenting them.
The introduction to the book is brief and to the point . Its an interesting background on the period, the people and the ingredients that were used. I ought to say here that I don't really know if this is more history book or a recipe book, but whatever it is the authors get the balance right. They have interspaced each recipe with a pertinent story about the Spanish Jews prosecution for religion - or should I say persecution?
Each recipe has all the ingredients, which are as authentic as possible, as well as all the measurements and temperatures and so on to make it work for modern kitchens.
I have the book in hardcover but I notice the paperback version is now available, unfortunately I don't know if the paperback has the same production values. The Harcover has a wonderfully warm honey bright cover which I loved. The paper inside was also nice, it has the 'uncut' roughened look to the edges and they use a type face for the headgins which makes it seem more authentic. Its kind of picky but I wish they hadn't used the colour they did on the pages - its all done in this sort of browny/red colour. Its the only thing I didn't like about the book.
There are quite a few explanatory footnotes at the end of the book too for various dishes &c..
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