Our cooking school has always been in the former Jewish ghetto of Lecce, a fact that often troubles those on a first visit to Italy. (Those that know Italy well often point out our school’s location as in the ghetto, even before I say it).
And it comes up a lot around the Southern Italy, not only the Jewish contribution to Southern Italian culture but the sobering influence on the food and wine as well.
As I travel Southern Italy throughout the year. From Trapani, Sicilia to Trani, Puglia. In Lecce, in the new museum dedicated Lecce’s Jewish history. In Calabria. The Communities have come and gone, acclimatised, relocated, adapted. And each time they contributed to the local food, in ways that are still active and cherished today, among the various faiths alike.
‘Have you ever thought about teaching a class on the cooking of Southern Italian Jews’, an Israeli student asked me a few weeks back. And I had, but just feared that the audience wouldn’t be large enough. The next day we put a feeler out on Facebook and had as many emails. Even if only half those that wrote come, the class will be full. And it’s not even on our site yet.
We’ll be running the week with a short discussion series before each meal, a short of lecture that puts everything into context.
1) From the fertile crescent to Italy: the migration of wine making, from the Middle East to Europe.
2) Invisible Rivers: Puglia’s underground water sources and cleansing rituals.