Recipes of My 15 Grandmothers is a unique cookbook that contains centuries-old recipes of your grandmothers from the times of Crypto-Jews. Why was this an important book for you to write?
Keeping the memories of my ancestors alive is very important to me. So many times once the elders die, the younger generation has no idea what their history was. I find that by recording the recipes of my grandmothers and by telling stories that were passed down to me, I am successfully leaving bread crumbs for the future generations of my family.
Was there a lot of research you had to do for this book? Did you have to hunt for the recipes or were they readily available to you?
I found the recipes in one place but they were faded, lightly written and difficult to understand I had to do separate research into the Spanish and Portuguese ancient tradition to be able to compile the information historically.
My favorite recipe from the collection is Bola Catalana. What is your favorite dish from the book?
My favorite dish is the periquillos because through this dish I learned all the customs of my family. I am beyond thrilled whenever I smell them cooking because it transports me right back to my grandmother’ kitchen.
Do you plan to write more books on food or Jewish history?
Yes I do. I am almost finished with a book on Cuban Kosher cooking. While it is not historical, it is a 30 year hands on work as I have changed all the typical Cuban Recipes to Kosher.
Recipes of My 15 Grandmothers is a collection of recipes and stories from the times of the Crypto-Jews who were hiding and pretending to be Catholic during the Spanish Inquisition while practicing their Judaism underground through the present. The grandmothers of the family devised clever ways to disguise the fact that they were still keeping kosher while appearing to be eating pork. Until modern times, the family pretended to be devout Catholics, yet passed many of the Jewish customs on, sometimes in the form of these recipes, their true legacy. For several hundred years they hid their fasts and celebration of Jewish holidays, revealing them only via their recipes and some kosher kitchen customs. This collection was found recently, hidden away at Genie Milgrom’s mother’s house.
Recipes of My 15 Grandmothers is a unique cookbook that contains centuries-old recipes of the author’s grandmothers from the times of Crypto-Jews. In the book, there are recipes for chicken, meat, fish and side dishes, sauces, desserts and also beverages. But it is not just a simple collection of recipes! Each recipe begins with a backstory about how the recipe was discovered, passed along generations and improved in ways that work well with “new world” ingredients. And the best thing is that all of them follow old Jewish customs and meet kosher guidelines.
Recipes of My 15 Grandmothers by Genie Milgrom is a superb collection of recipes. I was amazed how much effort, love and time the author has put into creating this cookbook. I can feel how much she respects her family’s Jewish heritage. I found the story of Genie Milgrom’s family interesting, knowing the origin of these recipes gives each recipe in this book a personal touch. I have never read a cookbook which also tells stories and shows the Jewish traditions. I was able to cook a dish and share a story of the recipes history with my family; a great conversation starter.
The structure of the book and the recipes is logical and I liked that each recipe is built up the same way. However, I would have preferred if the recipes were not in alphabetical order but rather in the order of difficulty (starting with the easy recipes).
The instructions to prepare the meals are clear and easy to follow. I found it great that the recipes are tested and modified to fit in the modern gastronomy. Recipes suitable for Passover are also clearly marked.
Recipes of My 15 Grandmothers: Unique Recipes and Stories from the Times of the Crypto-Jews during the Spanish Inquisition is a wonderful book written with love that you can taste.
Pages: 193 | ISBN: 9652299693
Pyre to Fire follows two stories, the fate of a Spanish village during the Inquisition and the contemporary story of a Cuban girl trying to find her roots. Why was this an important book for you to write?
This was the story of my own family with information that I gleaned from all the archival material that I found while researching my own genealogy. While the trajectory of the family, their occupations, names, etc are the not fiction, I had to embellish on the scenes and fill in the blanks. The little girl in Miami is me and it was important to show the relationship between me and my ancestors in as real a way as possible.
I enjoyed the detail in your vision of the village of Fermoselle during Spain’s sudden and devastating conversion to Catholicism. What kind of research did you undertake to ensure your book was accurate?
All my material is primary sourced. I have every single birth, death and marriage certificate as well as land purchases, notarial deeds and last wills of testaments going back to 1545. I then have just wills, notarial deeds and Inquisition records in the archives going back to 1405 Spain and Portugal.
Maria’s character was one that I thought was well developed and captured her soul. What was the inspiration for her character?
I am Maria. The whole description of incidents is exactly as they happened to me.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book is The Recipes of the 15 Grandmothers. I was able to locate recipes that were passed to my Mother from Crypto Jewish times through today. The are special in that any keep the kosher laws even when the family was Catholic and are clearly showing a sign of their times. This book is finished and in the editing process.
A compelling work of historical fiction that engages the reader to follow the story of a family from the burning Pyres of the Spanish Inquisition to a young Cuban Catholic girl in Miami, Florida whose soul was ablaze with a desire to return to its’ rightful place among the Jewish people.
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The Spanish Inquisition in 1492 left no Jewish family untouched. The impact of this horrific period in Spain runs deep and it has had long-lasting effects upon Jewish families through the ages. Maria, a descendant of a Jewish family forced to convert to Catholicism, allows her gut feelings to rule her religious preferences, and she spends time researching her family’s hidden past. As she begins to find more and more clues, she realizes that her soul is true to her Jewish roots, and she sets out to turn her own life upside down even if it means alienating her Catholic family members.
Genie Milgrom’s Pyre to Fire contains two parallel story lines detailing the village of Fermoselle, Spain’s sudden and devastating conversion to Catholicism and descendant Maria’s slow but sure discovery of her family’s painful secrets. The quest Milgrom lays out as part of Maria’s search for answers is written in tandem with excerpts detailing Maria’s ancestors’ struggle in the 1490s. As a reader, I appreciated the parallels and the bounce between modern times and the historical descriptions. I am not versed in this aspect of world history and can easily say I feel equal parts of enlightenment and horror. Milgrom does a wonderful job of painting the trauma and the emotional struggle of the Jews in Spain being forced into conversion and threatened with their lives if they did not comply. Milgrom’s characters, based on her own lineage, help draw a painfully clear picture of the atrocities and the pain experienced by Jewish families who battled for centuries as a result of having to choose to hide their rituals, worship practices, and adherence to dietary restrictions.
I found the heartbreaking life of Maria’s ancestor, Catalina, and the circumstances in which she finds herself on the night of the inquisition to be among the most tragic I have read in historical fiction works. Catalina is faced with hiding, lying, and evading arrest. Her life, though she and her husband try everything in their power to make normal lives and honor their Jewish traditions, is a life of pure fear. Catalina is never afforded true happiness. Milgrom gives readers a tragic and historically accurate protagonist.
As I read, I had a little trouble getting past some errors that could have been prevented with proofreading. Two characters speaking within a single lengthy paragraph and some misplaced quotation marks and punctuation presented some challenges as I read.
This short read (just under 140 pages) gives readers a clear picture of the horrors inflicted on one group of people by another in the name of religion. Milgrom is helping raise awareness, encourage tolerance, and educating generations far removed from her characters’ lives. Readers who are interested in history and curious about the details surrounding The Spanish Inquisition will find Pyre to Fire a great addition to their collection of literature.
Pages: 228 | ASIN: 1976594510
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