What’s In a Name?

March 1st, 2013

My family name, Gandin, is one that offers few clues to its origin; I have been frequently mistaken by others to be one of “their people”.   In culinary school, my French instructor insisted on calling me Monsieur “gan-DAN”.  When I lived in Italy, my coworkers believed that my ancestors must have come from the Veneto region of Italy.  In the Venetian dialect, the letter “I” is dropped from the end of the not uncommon Italian surname Gandini.

I am a third generation Californian, but my ancestors were Jews that emigrated from the Ukraine.  Although my upbringing was fairly secular, I did have a Bar Mitzvah and attended a Jewish summer camp in Malibu each year as a youth.   Most people don’t realize that there is actually a significant Jewish community in Mexico, centered in Mexico City.  Like most immigrants, they have assimilated into Mexican culture.  Even though it is a predominantly Catholic nation, historically the Mexican government has been surprisingly tolerant of differing faiths.

I have always been fascinated by how cuisines are transformed by the cross-pollination of different cultures.  For example, Lebanese immigrants brought the vertical spit roasting method for cooking shawarma with them, which, using local ingredients, in Mexico morphed into pork al pastor.   This year during Passover, we will be hosting two nights of Mexican-inspired seders in Abajo, our private dining room.  There will be no hagadahs, and I make no claims to the “kosherness” of this meal, only to its deliciousness.  Of course no pork will be served, and we will follow the more liberal Sephardic tradition that does allow for corn, rice, and beans during Passover.

These multi-course family-style dinners will take place in Abajo, our 20-seat private dining room, Monday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 26, commencing at 6:30 pm each night.  To purchase tickets to either seating, click on one of the following links:

March 25 dinner – https://www.ticketfly.com/event/233205

March 26 dinner – https://www.ticketfly.com/event/233209