Jewish Influence on Italian Cuisine
Born to a secular Jewish family, Sheila Vitale spent years trying to better understand God’s teachings. Two personal encounters with the Lord Jesus Christ led her to found Living Epistles Ministries over two decades ago. A Judeo-Christian pastor, teacher, scholar, and author, Sheila R. Vitale sustains a heavy workload but also enjoys life’s basic blessings including food, and is fond of Italian cuisine.
Jews have been present for over 2,000 years in Rome; held as slaves in ancient times, fleeing the Spanish Inquisition, and escaping carnage in Libya. This extended presence has enabled Jewish food to have its own share of influence on Italian cuisine. A notable period was from 1500 to 1800 AD when the Jewish Ghetto in Rome was under curfew with its gates closed after sundown.
This hardship caused the Jews to be resourceful and produce various street foods that utilized the meager food supply. Once lowly dishes that originated from this period include carciofi alla giudia (deep-fried artichoke done “Jewish-style”) and suppli (deep-fried rice balls with mozzarella, raw egg, and tomato sauce). These and other foods are now among popular Italian dishes enjoyed by locals and tourists from around the world who visit Italy.