Artichokes and Jewish Geography

11 Jul

artichokeDuring a recent trip to Rome with my family, I spent an afternoon in the Jewish Ghetto. The main street, Via del Portico d’Ottavia, is full of kosher restaurants and shops selling fine Judaica and posters advertising Jewish community events.

We enjoyed a delicious dairy lunch of pasta with asparagus, truffles and artichokes at Ba’Ghetto restaurant. There is a long tradition of serving fried artichokes in the Ghetto. In 1555, Pope Paul IV ordered that all Jews in Rome must live in a walled-in Ghetto. Food and water were scarce in the Jewish Ghetto, and frying over fire became a frequent method of food preparation. This dish, Carciofi Alla Giudia, was a mainstay for the people locked behind gates in the Ghetto because artichokes were one of the few plentiful ingredients and it is still served today. See for more information.

Following lunch, we visited the magnificent Great Synagogue of Rome.  We arrived as they were setting up for a wedding and the beautiful building was filled with flowers.

But the real highlight of our visit to the Ghetto was a chance meeting Rich Bergman, Federation’s Major Gifts Officer, and his wife, Rebecca, who were visiting Rome with two grandchildren! Where in the world have you been and run into someone you know?

rich, ilene, rebecca, michael

Ilene Fox, Michael Fox, Rich Bergman, and Rebecca Bergman in the Jewish Quarter of Rome

Ilene Fox is the Director of Women’s Philanthropy at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. 


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