No One Expects the Spanish Inquisition!

With Israel's Sephardic population dazzled by news of a possible roots reunion, 'Tel Aviv Table' explores the history - and present- of Spanish-Jewish cuisine.


In early February, Spain announced plans to offer citizenship to Jews whose ancestors were expelled from Iberia 500 years ago, during the Spanish Inquisition.

The anouncement caused something of a stir in Israel, where more than half the Jewish population trace their family tree back to the Iberian Peninsula.

Jews of Spanish descent, or Sephardim, have had a huge impact not only on Jewish cuisine, but on the cuisine of southern Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East. On today’s program, we’re going to take a look at the food of the Spanish Inquisition: what Jewish people were eating five centuries ago in Spain, the adaptations their cuisine underwent when they were forced to keep their religion under wraps, and how Spanish food is seen in Israel today.

We speak with Tel Avivians to hear if they are filing paperwork for passports: Attorney Leon Amiras explains how you might be able to cook your way into a Spanish passport. David Gitlitz, author of a book on the recipes of Spain’s Secret Jews, talks about using Spanish Inquisition court records as a source for recipes used by secret Spanish Jews. Tour guide and travel writer Yuval Ben Ami remembers what he ate on a recent Jewish history trip to Spain and Portugal. Chef Yonatan Roshfeld, owner of Tapas Ahad Ha’am, shares his thoughts on bringing Spanish food to Tel Aviv. At the end of the program, Maya Marom, author of the gorgeous food blog, gives her guidelines for great cookies for the Jewish Purim holiday, and we use her tips in a hamentaschen taste test between Dallal bakery, Miki Shemo and Dudu Outmezgine. And last, we have food news - headlines on the growing American appetite for hummus, on five-shekel wine and beer, and on a fish and chips joint in Jaffa.

Follow Tel Aviv Table on Twitter @telavivtable, and write us with suggestions or questions at

Mel Brooks: The Spanish Inquisition
Berry Sakharov and Reah Mohiah: Ma Lah Yehida
Efecto Pasillo: Pan y Mantequilla
Bing Crosby: Valencia
Elisha Banai- Barcelona
Marni Nixon - The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly on the Plain

A shrimp-less paella.Credit: Dreamstime

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