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La cucina ebraica del mezzogiorno

Jews have been in Italy 1,200 years longer than Yiddish has even been a language. So, why then, is so little known about this compelling element of Italian food and wine?

The Jewish Cooking of Southern Italy

Part of what makes Italian food and wine so engaging is just when you think you understand it a bit you discover a new region that upends it all. Only in this case, rather than another region, we’ll sharpen our focus on these specific and elegant filaments woven right into the national tapestry of Italian food and wine. 

This week-long, hands-on southern Italian cookery course grows out of culinary anthropology and the history of Italian winemaking but blooms into joyous and secular food and wine course open to everyone who likes great Italian cooking, prepared with one’s own hands. 

That all of this is so delicious, inviting and Mediterranean-healthy makes it all that much more alluring. 

We’ll survey the food and wine of five Southern Italian regions, to study their unique histories and geography, to see who ate what, where and just how surprisingly relevant these dishes are today. 

Our Lecce school has always been in the former Giudecca (Jewish quarter) of Lecce and it just might be one of your favourite elements, of the conviviality of gathering at the table with people from all over the world, united by fresh ingredients, great cooking and one more glass of wine.

Where: Held in the historic centre of Lecce.

When: Throughout the year. Write us for details. Not likely to be held in 2024 for the recent troubles.

Taught in: English.

Where you sleep: Wherever you like. See our recommendations around town once booked. Many are in the former Jewish quarter.

How much? 1995 Euro.

Best way to arrive, depart, maximise your time with us: Everything is spelled out in our Student Services. You’ll be given access upon booking.

Book now with an email. 

We look at five regions of Southern Italy, one region per day. 

We see how the food and wine differs and differed from region to region, all across Southern Italy, a diaspora within the diaspora.  

Many food and wine lovers think of Jewish food as having two distinct branches, Sephardic or Ashkenazi.

But in Italy we have a third rail- Italkim- two thousand years of a population that mostly speaks- and spoke- the local language- Italian or dialect- and observed most of the same local customs as the Christians. 

Jews in many communities across Southern Italy outnumbered Christians for hundreds of years, the two groups peacefully co-existing in ways that might surprise our modern sensibilities. 

Q: Is the course Kasher (Kosher)?

A: No. This is a secular, cultural course. 

Q: Do I need to be Jewish?

A: No, we’re not. You just need to be be open to learning about great food and wine and how they play and played a part in the life of Italian Jews.