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April is an extraordinary time to visit the city of Rome where the Jewish people and Passover have a very special relationship, and in turn have a unique Passover Seder. The Passover seder is one of the most ritualistic meals that you can participate in, and it should be no surprise that Rome has its own way of doing it!
The Jewish neighborhood in Rome is located along the bank of the Tiber River. During the 16th century, Pope Paul IV built a wall in this area to segregate the Jews from the rest of the population. Therefore, this neighborhood is often still called the Jewish ghetto.
Due to the separation that occurred between Jews and other Europeans, over time, the Jewish people created their own traditional style of cooking. As a result, the traditional Passover meal, or seder, that is eaten by Jews in Rome is very unique to the meal eaten by Jews in other parts of Europe.
The Jewish seder in Rome will start with Haroset, which is a is a puree of dates, oranges, raisins and figs. The Haroset is usually followed by beef flavored with arugula and lemon. Pesce in carpione, another traditional Passover dish, consists of cubes of friend white fish and caramelized onions. Additionally, instead of the famous matzoh ball soup, Roman Jews serve an egg-drop soup that does not include matzoh balls. But wait…there’s more!
A main course at a Passover seder in Rome could be a vegetable and lamb lasagna made with matzoh noodles. And, finally, for dessert, almond paste cookies covered in powdered sugar.
Check out our cooking classes and programs in Rome so that you can try your hand at a traditional Roman Passover dish, such as our Rome cooking class and walking tour that sometime stops in the Jewish ghetto.
By Kerry Herbst
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