Apricot Chipotle Chicken and the Anousim
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The hidden Jews of Mexico
Known as the “anousim,” the “conversos,” or “crypto-Jews” (but never “Marranos,” a word meaning swine), the Jews of Mexico have an interesting history and have, no doubtingly, contributed to the culture of their communities. With the horror that was the Mexican Inquisition, it’s no wonder that few of us know about the contribution of the anousim to Mexican culture, particularly cuisine (some attribute the Tortitas de Papa–a Mexican potato pancake–to the latke) as so many Jews had to practice in secret, their offspring unaware of their roots until years later, such as when a grandchild found a tallit hidden in a box after her grandfather’s death. Today’s recipe, Apricot Chipotle Chicken, is a bit of a nod to this hidden culture of Mexico.
Jewish food is fusion cuisine
Someone recently joked with me that my inclusion of Mexican-inspired recipes was a fusion cuisine. Fusion is a bit of pejorative in foodie circles these days, as Asian tacos pop up all over the country. They are no doubt correct that my recipes are somewhat fusion cuisine, but this amalgam of cuisine is as Jewish as possible–an inevitable response to the environment of the diaspora. As Jews have been forced to flee to escape persecution, we’ve had to learn to adjust to the new cultures of the lands we move to and find a way to blend our own customs. This effect was explained beautifully in Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York.
Apricot Chipotle Chicken
The recipe I share today is inspired by this blend of the cultures in Mexico. The variety of flavors–sweet, salty, spicy, and sour–are reminiscent of Sephardic cuisine, but with a distinct Mexican flavor contributed from the chipotle peppers.