During Passover (which ends this weekend), you’ve probably indulged in your fair share of potato pancakes or stopped by a Jewish deli for a pastrami sandwich; you probably didn’t think to seek out Jewish foods with Latin flavors. But Latin America has its own rich Jewish culinary traditions. And they’re delicious.
You can find many a Jewish dish at dinner tables all over Latin American Jewish communities in Argentina, Brazil, and more. In fact, there are an estimated 500,000 people throughout the region, sharing, celebrating, and cooking those classic dishes. Argentine chef Tomas Kalika is one of those. But he’s changing the way we see and eat Jewish food by transporting the flavors and traditions to a fine-dining experience in Buenos Aires. The only problem? Even his culinary prowess is no match for a Jewish grandma.
“If you open a traditional Jewish restaurant, every dish is going to compete with the flavors you have in your memory,” Kalika says. “For sure, I will always lose. I cannot compete with your grandmother.”
So Kalika and his business partner, Javier Ickowicz, took a different approach to Jewish cuisine with Mishiguene, which opened in 2014. Instead of replicating bubbe’s recipes, Mishiguene merges traditional ingredients from Eastern Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East with modern cooking techniques.