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Portico: Cooking and Feasting in Rome's Jewish Kitchen

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by Leah Koenig
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Named for the Via del Portico d’Ottavia, the main street of Rome’s ancient Jewish community, Portico portrays the cooking of three different populations: the Italkim, whose roots in the city are older than the Empire; the Sephardim, whose ancestors were forced out of medieval Spain; and the Libyan Jews who began arriving in the late 1960s.

Leah Koenig, a veteran writer about Jewish food and culinary customs, skillfully portrays the traditions of each of these groups. She profiles key figures—the elegant matriarch, the YouTuber highlighting Libyan-Roman Jewish food history, the tour guide who knows everyone—as she creates a sense of both history and vitality.

As the artichoke on the book’s cover might suggest, there are many identifiably classic dishes here, including the fried artichokes nearly everyone eats on their first visit to Rome, two types of haroset for Passover, and dishes of bitter greens.

There are discoveries as well. For instance:

  • Brothy turnip and rice soup
  • Endive and anchovy pie
  • Merduma, a savory tomato spread out of the Libyan tradition
  • Sour cherry ricotta pie

A vivid and enchanting window.

Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.

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