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Spanish kosher food market set to grow

With increasing numbers of Jewish tourists, demand rising for Sephardic Jewish cuisine in southern Spain

VIDEO – Spain is becoming an increasingly popular destination for Jewish tourists, some wanting to rediscover their historic Sephardic roots, others simply wanting to enjoy the sun, and the country's gastronome culture, which plays a huge role in the Spanish experience.

 

So what exactly is the cuisine on offer here for Jewish visitors?

 

Video courtesy of jn1.tv

 

This past summer, the south of Spain saw record highs in tourist numbers, thanks in large part to foreigners in search of sun, culture, and good food. Spanish cuisine is well known around the world for its seafood, meats and cheeses, though many of their popular cuts are pork-based.

 

So apart from going vegetarian, it would seem there is little choice for Jewish visitors on the lookout for a more kosher diet. But thanks to special efforts in Spain to rediscover the country's Sephardic history, many traditional restaurants have opened up across Andalusia.

 

"When any visitor comes to Spain, they want to live the experience and they want to go back to that golden age of Sephardic Spanish Judaism in the Middle Ages in Spain. They want to experience that, in all senses, also in cooking," says Haim Casas, co-founder of the Casa Mazal restaurant.

 

"It's true that it's not easy to find restaurants dedicated to Spanish-Jewish cooking, kosher or non-kosher. But at the same time I will say that Spanish cooking in general is so influenced by Jewish cooking that in some ways it's easy to taste that food of the Spanish Jews.”

 

Casa Mazal in Cordoba is one example of a restaurant offering typical dishes, without being strictly kosher.

 

According to head chef Francisco Osuna Munon, "The cuisine of this restaurant keeps to traditional Sephardic Jewish cuisine, and we stick to the roots of those dishes while modernizing their presentation.

 

"The same methods – fish still have scales, the milk we use is soy, and we use only vegetable oil, no meat fats. The Sephardic really liked eggplant. This dish is very slow-cooked, using eggplant, onions, spices and then blended… Spicy rice with chicken, where the chicken is slow-cooked beforehand, and we finish with a grape 'bacalao', where the fish is grilled and then steamed."

 

Kosher version of pork staples

At the beachside there's less choice in the way of traditional cooking and limited kosher options, Which is why this summer, floods of calls have landed at a deli in Malaga which has been been taking orders from hotels on the Costa Del Sol and the rest of Spain for kosher cooking, in addition to weekly demand from Spanish residents for Shabbat lunch.

 

"There's been an increase in the number of orders for Shabbat for fresh meat and for all products," says Benjamin Cohen of DeliKosher.com. "There are more and more kosher hotels here in Spain, and they look to us too."

 

There's been such high interest that Benjamin is looking to plug a gap in the market for more kosher restaurants in the South of Spain, to cater to a growing appreciation for Spanish food culture, and is even in the early stages of developing a kosher version of one of Spain's most popular pork staples.

 

"We're also trying to develop a kosher product to export abroad, which is a typically Spanish chorizo which you can't find anywhere," he says.

 

With increased levels of tourism, the demand is rising for both kosher and non-kosher Sephardic Jewish cuisine, and businesses are finding there are plenty more opportunities to provide that supply – much to the delight of Spain's domestic Jewish community, which finds there is much more on offer today than ever before.

 

 


פרסום ראשון: 11.30.13, 07:43
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