The flavours that could not be
Bernardino Riaño Figueroa was born in Posadilla, a village close to Fuente Ovejuna, and he lives, since he got married, in Badajoz. When he was a child, he had heard that the villages founded by Saint Teresa (a Spanish nun and poet of whom it was said that she had Jewish ancestors) were mostly inhabited by concealed Jews and converts. This is the case of his family, which probably converted to Christianity during those terrible days of the Inquisition, and whose descendants still keep in their memories unexplainable details that reflect the Jewish past (and legacy) in Spain. When he was forty years old, he started to investigate the origins of his family and he discovered his Jewish roots. As to culinary habits he tells us the following:
"The Inquisition controlled all meals, so that those people with Jewish blood didn't have different meals. They ate what everybody was eating: marinated piglet, black sausage with onions and ham, and we haven't anything preserved from these Jews. But I do remember that my grandmother put an "orza" (earthenware saucepan) next to the fire, on top of the ashes, from Friday evening on and during the whole Saturday, and everyone helped himself to a plate of stew when there was "gazuza" (hunger).
Today seems like yesterday. What was bizarre was the way my grandparents killed the chickens: I haven't seen anything like it in other villages. They made a cut in the neck of the animal, and then, with its head down, they let all the blood pour down on ashes that they had spread on the floor. Recently I found out, through people who have studied this, that this is the way Jews slaughtered birds.
For the celebrations, sponge cakes, fritters, the "floreta" with honey, honey-coated fritters and "piñonate" doughnuts. Everything was cooked with virgin olive oil. Very good virgin olive oil. But, in the Seventies we got used to the refined oil, which was said to be better... so what are we to do about it..."