I did a lot of research to make this article happen. I went undercover as an Ashkenazi Jew, with another friend, to a Sephardi friend’s home. Eating at a Moroccan Jew’s home for Shabbat dinner, I loved all the food I was able to eat without crying.

Here is what I ate and what I learned.

Jachnun, Malawwach, Kubaneh, Lachuch

Yemenites make the most amazing bread but then they make it sound extremely unappetizing by giving it names like Lachuch. They are trying to keep Ashkenazik Jews away from enjoying it. But I am on to them.

Like salad in pureed form? Salatim.

I know nothing about Yemenite history. All I know is that they know how to make bread taste amazing. The secret is fried. Oil or butter. As long as it is fried, it is heavenly. The Yemenite community might have lost some of their traditions while acclimating in Israel, but they know still know how to add fat to bread.

Matbucha

A very tasty dip for bread, which is part of the Israeli Salatim course. Salsa. I said it. Somebody is going to hate me for calling Matbucha salsa. If you are mad at me, take a tortilla chip, scoop out a little Matbucha and tell me it isn’t salsa.

Salatim

Like salad in pureed form? Like your vegetables fried and cold? Like beets that are too spicy to eat? This is for you. If you call it Salatim then the fried eggplants sound healthy. You might know this as dips but I prefer to think of it as salad that tastes good and looks nothing like salad.

My friend’s Sephardic table had amazing bread and then to top it off, they brought out stuff to dip it in. After half an hour of dipping tasty bread, I saw what they were doing. As an Ashkenazi, I knew they were trying to fill me up, so that I’d be full when they brought out the meat.

I don’t know if eggplants are a Sephardic or Israeli thing. My Sephardic friends love eggplants. Does that sound racist? I hope not. I hope that the fact that I am basing all my thoughts about Sephardic Jews on three families that live in Israel doesn’t make me prejudiced.

Schug

The topper for the Salatim course, this is spicier than the spicy stuff. If the pepper and hot sauce is not enough, they had me add Schug. This was to ensure that every Ashkenazi taste bud of mine was vaporized. When they saw that my face was not red, they added more Schug to my pudding.

Anything hot and spicy. Carrots, soaked in stuff that burns your mouth, that is Schug.

Shakshuka

Poached eggs with a tomato and chili sauce. As long as the sauce is some kind of Matbucha or salsa, it works. Try huevos rancheros and tell me they didn’t steal this from the Mexicans.

Chraime

Fish with a spicy tomato sauce. This North African dish is a Friday night favorite. After Shakshuka for breakfast, and Matbucha for the Salatim course, it is time for more Matbucha. I thought that I had to watch out for fish bones, to save my life. No. It was the spicy sauce. At this point, I accused them of pouring a bottle of Sriracha and Tabasco on everything. My friend said, and I quote, “This is a Chraime.” I was let down when the Sephardic father laughed. I was hoping that I could at least get away from puns if I visited Northern Africa.

Sabich

Hardboiled egg and eggplant sandwich served in a pita; it’s falafel without falafel balls. This Iraqi Jewish dish is liked by Ashkenazi Jews, because we can eat it. I think they brought this out because they felt bad for me. Rest assured, Sephardim you can still add some spicy Matbucha mixture to it if you would like to keep Ashkenazim away from it.

Kubbeh

Cracked wheat and ground meat that is fried, older American Jews think this is the Sephardic version of a beef knish. As my friend said, “Sephardic Jews are closer to the Torah. This is 3,000 years tradition. I am sure Moshe, in the desert, was eating this stuff. If it wasn’t the manna from the heavens , it was the Kubbeh. Moshe was eating corndogs with ground beef?”

Kebab

Middle Eastern hamburgers. Cylindrical burgers fit better in the Laffa.

Couscous and Vegetable Stew

You can call it a Moroccan stew. I call it boiled vegetables on couscous with no Matbucha. This was made for the Ashkenazi Jews living in North Africa.

Baklava

The dessert is there to end the meal. That is why it must be extremely sticky and impossible to remove from your fingers. The main ingredient is honey, spread all over the outside of this flaky pastry. Must make sure it is on the outside of the pastry. The honey sticks to you until the next meal, and the flaky dough gets all over you. And then you deep fry it in the oil of the Sabich sandwich, just in case your shirt is still clean at the end of the meal.

Sfinge

Fried dough that is extremely oily. Known as Moroccan donuts, these were served as another dessert, staining my shirt again.

Other Random Stuff I Learned At the Sephardic Meal

  • Moroccans take credit for all Sephardic food, even Iraqi Sabich. They even took credit for creating donuts. It might have just been my friends taking credit for making all the dishes. They were talking in Hebrew and I didn’t understand much.

  • Sephardic Jews love tomatoes, almost as much as Ashkenazim love potatoes.

  • If you have a cut anywhere on your body, do not eat Sephardic food.

  • Spicy food was explained by my father: In the Middle East it is dry arid air. The spicy food reminds people to drink. Thus, the spicy food is a safety precaution, so people don’t dehydrate.

  • The next time I go to a Sephardic meal, I am going to bring mayonnaise.

  • Much Sephardic food is deep-fried, and deep-frying is healthy. I know this because their whole family was thinner than me.

  • I think I ate more than any Sephardic person has ever eaten in one sitting.

  • Eating Sfinge is really eating Sufganiot. So basically they are celebrating Chanukah all year round.

  • Everything tastes better with pita or laffa so you are not allowed to be gluten intolerant at a Sephardic meal.

  • Sephardic Jews know how to make hard-boiled eggs. From now on, I am boiling my eggs for nothing less than twenty hours.

  • Israeli food is Sephardic. Israeli food is not Ashkenazic.

  • I love all five aspects of Sephardic eating: Spicy, fried, tomatoes, sticky, stained shirt.