Balagan Cafe: music, kosher wine and Jewish food tastings

Last appointment for this year, next Thursday 1 September, with the tenth edition of the Balagàn Café in the garden of the Synagogue (free admission from via Farini, 6 starting at 7 pm). The special summer cultural event, organized by the Jewish Community of Florence and the Jewish Tuscan Network Committee in collaboration with the Jewish Museum of Florence, with the support of the Tuscany Region.

Since last June 30th, the Balagan has enlivened the Florentine summer evenings for two months and sold out every Thursday with hundreds of participants, friends of the Jewish community, tourists, Florentines, but also many Tuscans. The initiative was realized thanks to the contribution of the CR Firenze Foundation as part of the artistic and cultural call. This year’s edition of Balagan entitled “Tuscany: Crossroads of cultures” looked at Europe, sadly tormented by war and at the role that our territories have today and have had in history in the journey of people, cultures, of history.

The project, included in the Florentine Summer of the Municipality of Florence, was co-financed by the European Union – European Social Fund, as part of the Operational Program Metropolitan Cities 2014-2020. Next Thursday will be a special Balagàn Café, dedicated to the theme of “dialogue” and created in collaboration with the European Association for Jewish Heritage (AEPJ), an acronym behind which a group of volunteers works and spends their energies for a common goal: to enhance Jewish material and spiritual treasures in its many and varied forms, to spread and deepen Jewish culture in Europe. A commitment that of the association, born 23 years ago on the occasion of the first edition of the Culture Day, which continues to operate and play the role of “umbrella organization” for the Day in Europe. It is in fact through the AEPJ that the guidelines of the day are established, which over time has been transformed into more “Days” and today it is an event that every year involves thousands of people from one end of Europe to the other.

Also on September 1st, as in the previous appointments, guided tours of the Jewish Museum and the Synagogue will take place. Wine not? Discovering wine in Judaism: traditions, history, culture and tasting! it will be the itinerary proposed by Verbena Giambastiani in collaboration with AEPJ, which will propose an original way of meeting Jewish culture through four themes linked together by the fil rouge of wine. The visits on two shifts: at 6.30 pm and 7.30 pm at a cost of 10 euros will be accessible by reservation at the number 055290383.

In the Jewish museum it will be possible to pause on four kiddush glasses on display to illustrate the role that wine takes on in Judaism and the values ​​it represents. In addition to introducing a theme linked to wine, in fact, each glass will be linked to the history of the different traditions that arrived in Florence over the centuries. For those who wish it will be possible to conclude the visit with a tasting of kosher wines from the Terra di Seta winery in Siena, a convivial moment (possible with a minimum offer of 8 euros for the tasting) which includes wine tastings during the evening inside the Synagogue garden.

At 7.45 pm the meeting will take place that will see the presentation of the book All’arco di Tito, published by Belforte, which tells about our country seen through the eyes of those who come from Israel. At 8.15 pm the recovery of the concert canceled on Thursday 18 due to adverse weather conditions, with Dimitri Grechi Espinoza in collaboration with the Mixitè project, the Florentine festival that brought the saxophonist, born in Moscow, first in the Ukrainian church, then in the Russian Orthodox one and finally in the synagogue.

Dimitri Grechi Espinoza, author of the fusion between the study of sacred science in traditional cultures and research on sound, will perform in the garden of the Synagogue with the aim of rediscovering the sound space of sacred places. The musician, Russian by origin but Tuscan by adoption (he lived in Moscow until he was 5 years old before moving to Livorno with his mother) of the original culture, carries with him a way of thinking that looks more to the East than to the ‘West, with a strong spirituality at its base. The concert at the synagogue recalls the adopted city of Grechi Espinoza: Livorno where there is a strong Jewish community and tradition and where he moved while still a child, with his mother on the run for love. At 9 pm the meeting “The Hebrew: a gateway to a world. Conversation with Luisa Basevi ”.

Luisa Basevi is a Hebrew language teacher at the Liceo “Renzo Levi” in Rome, at the Rabbinical College and at Ulpan Online promoted by the Union of Italian Jewish Communities. Since 2017, well before the great diffusion of distance lessons, with the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities has launched Ulpan Online to give everyone the opportunity to study Hebrew.

Today she is entrusted with the UCEI Hebrew course with the seven levels available to those who want to learn the language: from the Alef one, which is the basic one in which the alphabet is studied, up to Hei and Hei plus. It will therefore be a moment to recount a long experience of teaching Jews and non-Jews of a language that is above all an access key to get in touch with a millenary culture, a real essential tool for dialogue. At 9.30 pm the dialogue will be in music with the concert of the quartet “Mishmash” (a mobile term that in various languages ​​contains different meanings related to the concept of “mixing”), formed by Marco Valabrega on violin and viola, Nicola Pignatiello on guitar , Bruno Zoia on double bass, the famous Iranian percussionist Mosshen Kasirossafar on Persian percussion, and the voice of Yasemin Sannino, offers a very original and fascinating version of the complex of sounds that inhabit the Mediterranean, the Middle Eastern world, the countries of ‘East.

The main ideas are in the klezmer repertoire (the music of the Ashkenazi Jewish communities), in the Sephardic romances that embrace a territory from Spain to Turkey, in the traditional pieces of Persian and Middle Eastern music, in the original and author pieces inspired by these same musical cultures, with choices of arrangement and execution that recreate that “vagabond” flavor that has always characterized these repertoires. The quartet performs regularly in numerous festivals in the main Italian and foreign cities, has released three albums for Finisterre, enjoying flattering acclaim from the public and specialized press: the first album, “Delta”, the second “Parvanè” and the third ” Yasaman “. The aperitif organized by Ruth’s kosher Jewish restaurant will be, as always, an experience of taste and culture inspired by recipes from the Jewish world.

You can taste: Cous Cous with vegetables accompanied by Harissa and Burik sauce. Couscous is the best known dish in Italy of Maghrebi cuisine, it is widely believed that it is a dish of Arab origin, but this is not the case. In support of the aforementioned thesis, cous cous is not consumed in the Arabian peninsula; couscous is in fact a traditional dish from the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya) and its limit of expansion towards the East is marked by the Gulf of Sirte. In Israel we find it as a dish of the diaspora of Sephardi Jews of Maghrebi origin. Cous cous is therefore to the Maghreb, as bulghur and rice are to the Mashreq.

But perhaps not everyone knows that it boasts a thousand-year history. The origins date back to the seventh century after Christ, but there is a fascinating legend that leads us to take numerous steps back to 950-930 BC It seems, in fact, that King Solomon indulged in large meals of cous cous to relieve the pains of love caused by the Queen of Sheba. Over time, couscous has become the protagonist of an Agape rite, just like Christian bread that is broken and distributed, or like rice that the Orientals divide as a sign of brotherhood and communion.

Accompanied by the Harissa sauce, a slightly spicy red pepper puree originally from Tunisia. The origin of the word derives from the Arabic verb harasa which literally means “to crush”, “to beat” or “to grind”. It is a sauce introduced into Israeli cuisine by Tunisian Jews. To conclude, bourekas (or burekas) are one of the most popular dishes in Israel, one of the most popular street food, second only to felafel. They are so popular that they are even used to define a cinematic genre in vogue in the 1960s and 1970s. These were films between the comic and the melodramatic, produced in Israel and focused above all on the clashes between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews, both loved by the public and despised by critics. every occasion is good to nibble one, from morning to sunset, and obviously the hunt for the best producer is always open. In their homeland, the offer is vast, with fillings ranging from cheese to potatoes, from eggs to vegetables, with the most varied shapes and sizes.

As always, drinks and aperitifs are organized by the Balagan Bistrot Café. During the evening, in collaboration with the Peace Library, the bread of dialogue will be celebrated with the opportunity to admire and buy the various forms of bread in different cultures: from Egyptian to Sudanese bread to conclude with the Challà, the fragrant briochiato bread. with the unmistakable braid shape, typical of the Jewish tradition.

For the aperitif, places are limited and reservations are required on (recommended participation offer 10 euros). For information: 055290383

Balagan Cafe: music, kosher wine and Jewish food tastings