top of page


Sephardi: Cooking the History

"This book comes with a heart, a spine, a soul. Its soine is the resilience of a thousand years of Sephardi cooks, living in minority enclaves surrounded by frequently unfriendly majority cultures, who retained the essence of their Jewish culinary heritage and transmitted it to their children. Its heart beats to the rhythms of the Jewish week and liturgical year, Shabbat, Sukkot, Pesach, Yom Kippur, the fasts and feasts, the tables around which Jewish families gathered from season to season and from century to century. Its soul is nurtured in a faith that despite the hatred and fear, the Inquisitions and the pogroms, the silent discriminations and the attractions of assimilation, Sephardi descendants in Spain, in Portugal, and in all the lands of the diaspora are, and will forever be, cooking Jewish."

David M. Gitlitz

Professor Emeritus of Hispanic studies, and co-author of

A Drizzle of Honey

"Sephardi is truly the only cookbook of its kind. Hélène is cooking enticing and delicious cuisine of Sephardic Jewry while telling the story of migration and rich history that is part of my family's ancestry. Mazel Bueno to Sephardi!"

Michael Solomonov

Chef and Owner

of Zahav restaurant;

James Beard Award Winner;

Author of Zahav and Israeli Soul

“Hélène Jawhara Piñer's Sephardi: Cooking the History is a critical new work of Jewish culinary history. The booksheds a much-needed light on the foods of Jews from the Iberian peninsula while elucidating the community's rich culinary legacy. The role that ingredients, dishes, and cooking practices played in signaling one's religious identity under the inquisition speaks to the centrality that food played--and continues to play-in Jewish life. Jawhara Piner's cookbook is deeply researched, and in addition to providing thorough historical context to foods commonly associated with the Sephardic diaspora, the book also provides many unique and rare recipes that bring Sephardic Jewish history to life in the kitchen.”

Jeffrey Yoskowitz

Author of The Gefilte Manifesto

"Anyone who enjoys armchair travel may find themselves transported by this colorful cookbook-not just to another continent, but to another century. Kome kon gana!"

Bettina Berch

 Jewish Book Council

"Hélène Jawhara Piner's research has uncovered details that have been mostly forgotten, and I am certain that this book will have readers running to the stove to taste this largely unknown, opulent cuisine."

Ken Albala

Professor of History,

University of the Pacific

"The recipes in Sephardi reflect the lush and multifaceted culinary traditions of the Iberian Peninsula, influenced by Celtic, Iberian, Roman-Mediterranean, Germanic and North African flavors and techniques. Many of the recipes are the first recorded versions of dishes that are still made today - peot (challah), adefina (Sabbath stew), puchero (chicken soup) and even matzo albeit with some

modernized techniques."

Julie Giuffrida

 Los Angeles Times

"The gorgeously illustrated book, accompanied by uncomplicated instructions, offers dishes with spices and herbs, some similar to those in Middle Eastern cooking. Several of the author's personal recipes are drawn from historical sources adapted from her academic research."

"This is a critical new work of Jewish culinary history. In addition to providing thorough historical context to foods commonly associated with the Sephardic diaspora, the book includes many unique and rare recipes that bring Sephardic Jewish history to life in the kitchen."

Jane Manaster

San Francisco Book Review​

"This book is a testimony of a common passion: the cuisine of the Jews. I hope we will have the opportunity to work together. Enjoy!"

Leah Koenig

Author of The Jewish Cookbook

"Sephardic Jewish culture was important not only in the Iberian peninsula, but in a vast international diaspora, especially in the modern age. Historical investigation of primary sources uses texts, images, artifacts and other documents to analyze the past. The history of food has a fundamental repertoire for getting to know the food of yore: cookbooks. The work of the historian Hélène Jawhara Piñer retrieves the most important medieval and modern recipes of Sephardic food to reconstruct these dishes and understand them as part of a persecuted culture that maintained its identity based on the precepts of kashrut, the Jewish commandments, but, in the face of anti-Semitism and of the Inquisition, he also often had to hide his Jewish condition in order to survive. A kitchen that reveals and hides, expresses and delimits identities, serves as a border landmark of belonging to a community. In this universe, Jawhara Piner not only observes, but tastes, when rereading the recipes not only with a look, but through the contemporary experimentation of the old recipes. The result is an extraordinary book, which unravels the Sephardic past with the lenses of a cook historian, who not only reads the story, but cooks it over a slow fire, like the one needed for Shabbat dishes remained warm."

Henrique Soares Carneiro

 Professor of Modern History,

University of São Paulo

Jews, Food and Spain

"A vibrant scholar and a very talented cook, Hélène Jawhara Piñer has written a brilliant book that is as appealing as it is enlightening. From showing us that Swiss chard was mentioned in the Talmud to revealing that Jewish dishes were featured in prominent Muslim cookbooks, she makes every page worth reading - and every recipe you'll want to make. Her research expands our idea of edible Sephardic culture, charting its geography and anthropology to places as far-flung as Brazil and Mexico, in the process serving up important context for an impressively rich culinary heritage. Sephardi reminds us that there's always lots to learn about even the most time-honored traditions, and it's a work that encourages us all to dig deeper into our own individual histories, no matter where in the world they originate."

Adeena Sussman

 Author of Sababa: Fresh Sunny Flavors From My Israeli Kitchen

“In this fascinating study, which will appeal to readers (and cooks!) interested in the intersecting histories of food, Sephardic Jewish culture, and the Mediterranean world of Iberia and northern Africa, Hélène Jawhara Piñer studies Kitab al-tabikh, a cookbook of uncertain authorship written in Arabic around the year 1200 which also includes dietary advice about which foods to eat to address individuals’ variable health needs. Remarkably, this volume includes several recipes which its author describes as explicitly Jewish, such as “Jewish Partridge” and “A Jewish Dish of Eggplants Stuffed with Meat.” Piñer uses this volume and these recipes as her point of departure to investigate far-reaching questions: What is Jewish cuisine, what is Sephardic culture, and how can we use the history of food to trace Jewish experiences in the Iberian Peninsula and later, following Jewish and Muslim expulsions from Spain? Piñer makes a case for the role of ingredients, methods, cultural associations, and even utensils or cooking pots that probably once made a recipe discernibly Jewish.”

"This is a critical new work of Jewish culinary history. In addition to providing thorough historical context to foods commonly associated with the Sephardic diaspora, the book includes many unique and rare recipes that bring Sephardic Jewish history to life in the kitchen."

Heather J. Sharkey


Professor and Chair,

Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

“Hélène Jawhara Piñer’s new book, Jews, Food and Spain, is a wonder. Her research is deep and comprehensive, her presentation detailed and wise, and her ‘gift’ to the reader generous. Her work answers every question about the Sephardic culinary heritage you have ever had, and many questions you didn’t even know how to ask. This is a book anyone interested in food, its history, and its meanings, will want to read.”

 David Kraemer


Jewish Theological Seminary Librarian and Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics.

Author of Jewish Eating and Identity Through the Ages

"In Jews, Food and Spain, Hélène Jawhara Piñer invites us into the medieval kitchens of Muslim Spain, where she uncovers compelling evidence of several unknown, distinctively Jewish culinary practices that over the centuries have been integrated into Spanish cuisine. Her meticulous research into the foodways of Spain’s Sephardim will be eye-opening to all those with an interest in the food, history, and culture of the region."

Darra Goldstein

Willcox B. and Harriet M. Adsit Professor of Russian, Emerita

Author of A Taste of Russia

  • Noir Icône Instagram
  • Noir Twitter Icon
  • Noir Facebook Icône
bottom of page