Recipes of the Crypto-Jews, with Genie Milgrom
ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question: What are some originally Jewish practices related to food preparation that were passed on in Crypto-Jewish families as “family traditions”?
Genie Milgrom was born in Havana, Cuba, into a practicing Roman Catholic family of Spanish ancestry. From a young age, she felt unusually attracted to Judaism. After going through a formal conversion, she began to research her family’s history and was able to document her unbroken maternal lineage going back six centuries to pre-Inquisition Spain and Portugal, proving that she is, in fact, a descendent of forced converts, or anousim. Her research led her to write the books My 15 Grandmothers, and How I Found My 15 Grandmothers, A Step By Step Guide. Genie’s third book, Pyre to Fire, is a captivating historical novel that juxtaposes the story of a Jewish family living in the hometown of her own ancestors, Fermoselle Spain, at the time of the Inquisition, and Genie’s own fascinating autobiography.
She has won a number of awards for her books and research, and is active in organizations that deal with genealogy and Crypto-Judaic issues. In previous programs we spoke with Genie about how she found her 15 grandmothers and also about a conference she participated in on the Anousim Diaspora, which was held in Israel in 2015, as well as about her novel.
Genie’s latest book, Recipes of My 15 Grandmothers, contains family recipes that were passed down from generation to generation from the time of the Inquisition to the 20th century. Each recipe can be prepared in a kosher kitchen and includes a bit of history as well as information about the women who helped her test the recipes and adapt them to modern measurements and cooking methods. One of Genie’s favorites is a dark fruit cake that she especially recommends for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which begins next week, so if you’d like to try it, there’s still time to order the book…..