Review: Arthur Schwartz on Rome‘s Jewish cooking
Carciofi alla Giudea, Pizza Ebraica, and Concia, a zucchini conserve that all Romans eat, prepared according to a method of preserving fish that was spread all over the world by the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Portuguese and Spanish travelers. Jews in the Roman Ghetto were not allowed to buy white-fleshed fish, except salt cod. Photographs by Kristen Teig from Portico: Cooking and Feasting in Rome’s Jewish Kitchen
Jews have been in what is now called Italy since 134 BCE. That’s the supposed date when Judah Maccabee, the soldier-leader of the Jews in Judea, sent trade emissaries to Rome (and, it seems, to Sicily), after fighting off the Greek-Assyrians who defiled the temple in Jerusalem. The Maccabees rededicated the temple, but there was only one day’s worth of the necessary sacred oil for the eternal lamp. A miracle occurred. The oil lasted a week, the time it took to get more. Hence Jews celebrate Chanukah, the “festival of lights,” giving the Maccabees their most memorable moment in history.
More famously, Jews arrived in Rome again, about 200 years later, in 70 BCE, when Roman armies under the Emperor Titus sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the second temple. This time, Jewish captives were brought to Rome as slaves, as depicted in a bas relief on the Arch of Titus in the ancient Roman Forum. Clearly, it’s a slave procession carrying off the seven-arm menorah from the temple.