Issue ID: 18
Drawing on two distinct bodies of Sephardi food writing—Anglophone cookbooks and the long-running recipe column in the Judeo-Spanish periodical Aki Yerushalayim—this paper explores the role of cuisine as a primary affiliative structure in contemporary Sephardi culture. I argue that these two divergent literary traditions, in their general ignorance of one another, constitute a framework for an archive of Sephardi cooking. In spite of these texts’ common conception of cooking as a female practice of memory and identification as well as their shared interest in the intersection of the culinary and the linguistic, they are at odds with one another as to whether Sephardi culture exists only in the past, or may also be found in the present. Side-by-side consideration of both corpuses requires an understanding of Sephardi culture attentive to persistent continuities in spite of major historical ruptures.
Pedagogies of Citizenship
Sepharad and Jewishness in Spanish and Catalan Documentary Film and Television
Catalan filmmaker Martí Sans’s documentary L’estigma? (The Stigma?) (2012) and the Spanish television fiction series Cuéntame cómo pasó (Tell me how it happened) (2001-) confer visibility to the small national Jewish community that remains largely imaginary to their fellow Spaniards. They exemplify how cultural productions may reframe and circulate a different (his)story about the relationship of democratic Spain and Catalonia to the legacy of Sepharad and Jewishness, though they approach storytelling from different perspectives: the former is a social issues documentary defined by its didacticism; the latter delivers “infotainment” by appealing to viewers’ emotions. L’estigma?, structured around interviews with academics, theologians, and journalists, denounces longstanding antisemitic stereotypes that permeate Spanish society. Cuéntame, by introducing Jewish characters into a Spanish family drama, taps network TV as a vehicle to familiarize the viewing public with Jewish customs and Sephardi heritage in Spain. They present their audiences with an aspirational civic pedagogy, though not without a certain ambivalence toward the pluralistic landscape this pedagogy promotes.
A Life of Faith and Dissent
This essay focuses on the “Sephardic Portraits” of Daniel Quintero (Málaga 1949-), a leading Spanish figurative painter. In these paintings, composed over the last twenty-five years, Quintero portrays contemporary Sephardi figures alongside medieval and early modern Iberian Sephardi Jews. To provide a face to these historical figures (Maimonides, Samuel Halevi, Benjamin of Tudela, Gracia Mendes) Quintero finds inspiration in contemporary Spaniards. Alongside these portraits, a group of still lifes connect the past and present of Jewish Spain. Seen through the methodology of “curatorial dreaming” proposed by Shelley Ruth Butler and Erica Lehrer, these portraits and still lifes construct a genealogy and perform a particular cultural memory. They establish a relationship between a past that remains in the faces, gazes and gestures of those who forgot it and a present that works to make those traces visible through a re-engagement with the memory of Jewish Spain.