|This is a wonderful story. I felt the need to share it.
When asked where he found the recipe for the sweet yet savory stew he serves at Naomi Grill, his restaurant in the financial district in Madrid, Spain, Patricio Felsenstein shrugs, “It could have been anywhere. Chicken Tajin has been around for a thousand years.”
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Like his most requested dish, Felsenstein’s Sephardic restaurant seems like the culmination of the occasionally sweet, but mostly sorrowful, journey his ancestors took as a result of Spain’s infamous Edict of Expulsion in 1492.
During that time, Jews were arrested for koshering their food, celebrating the High Holidays — practicing their religion at all — so they sadly dispersed to lands as diverse as North Africa, the Middle East, Italy and the part of the world where Felsenstein spent his formative years, South America.
Growing up in Caracas, Venezuela, where he didn’t feel safe walking down the street — and where there were very few kosher restaurants — Felsenstein dreamed of moving back to the land of his ancestors and opening a restaurant that would meet the needs of those who want to eat out occasionally — and also observe the Orthodox Jewish dietary laws.
“There’s a law (in Spain) that makes it easy for a family with a Sephardic tradition to return to (the country),” he smiles, while sipping a glass of sweet fresh mint tea on the tree-lined patio of his restaurant. “And lots of Jews are ‘coming home.’ ”