It may come as a surprise, but Italy has a long tradition of Jewish cookery. Jews have been living in Rome since ancient times. Jewish communities have long existed in other cities, perhaps most famously Venice, and even in small towns like Pitigliano in Tuscany, known as “the Little Jerusalem”. These communities produced a rich culinary tradition exemplified in many dishes still enjoyed today, including the world-famous carciofi alla giudia (Jewish Fried Artichokes). <www.memoriediangelina.com>
<Charoset, is one of the symbolic foods that we eat during our Passover seder: its name comes from the Hebrew word cheres (חרס), which means “clay.” Charoset is a dense fruit paste that represents the mortar used by the ancient Hebrew slaves in Egypt to make bricks. Because Passover celebrates freedom, a small amount of charoset is placed on the seder plate as a reminder that we were once slaves and we should not take our freedom for granted.>
Italian recipes for Charoset vary enormously from region to region and even family to family. There are more versions of the recipes. This is a simpler, uncooked version from Acqui Piemonte: dates, almonds, matzoh, marsala wine, cinnamon.
- 100g (3-1/2 oz) blanched almonds -
- 100g (3-1/2 oz) or about 12 pitted dates -
- 2 pieces of matzoh, crumbled (about 50g) -
- 200 ml (3/4 cup) or so Marsala or other sweet wine -
- 2 Tbs sugar -
- Cinnamon powder, to taste -
Add the dates and (if whole) the almonds to a food processor and, using the pulse function, chop them roughly. Then add the matzoh. Process again, using the pulse function, until you have a rough, granola-like mixture. (If your blanched almonds have already been slivered or sliced, add them with the matzoh rather than the dates.)
Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and combine with the sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. Then add the Marsala slowly, mixing it with the mixture until it reaches a mortar-like consistency. Let rest for at least 30 minutes.
Spoon the charoset into serving bowl and, if you like, sprinkle some more cinnamon on top.