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Learning about the Turkish culture


The Oxford Symposium of Food and Cookery
Claudia Roden Writer
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I wasn't the kind of food writer who wants to keep everything jealously for me. I knew a lot of food writers who really would be interested. And so, I told them, why don't you do that. And so, they got all my details, they had them anyway, and within a few months they said, 'We are starting in so many months a conference in Istanbul, and around the country, where we can take you and anybody that you can give us their contacts, and we will invite you all to travel across Turkey and discover our cuisine'. And you know, it was unbelievably fantastic to hear that even. And even more fantastic when we went. Because I was already one of the early members of what was called The Oxford Symposium of Food and Cookery. And there were people who were interested in the history of food, and culture of food. And there were already quite a few people from abroad who came to Oxford, whom I had met in Holland, and in Spain and in parts, and told them, what about coming to the Oxford Symposium, and they did. And now, I was able to give them names of many people in America, whom I had met in America, sometimes. And people in Holland and people in Spain. And so, they had this big list of people and we all arrived.

We were received at the Pera Palace Hotel. And that night there was going to be dinner and when we came down for dinner, all looking a bit haggard. We weren't exactly glamorous, but then we were invited by a whole crowd of Turks who came in evening dress. And we had the local television, national television was filming. And it was the most incredible banquet that you could imagine. And there were belly dancers, and they made our founder, who was Allan Davidson, they forced people to dance. You know the way, belly dancers come along and just say, 'Come'. He didn't want to go, but we all said, 'Go, go'. And so, I have thought of lovely memories. 

Claudia Roden (b. 1936) is an Egyptian-born British cookbook writer and cultural anthropologist of Sephardi/Mizrahi descent. She is best known as the author of Middle Eastern cookbooks including A Book of Middle Eastern Food, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food and The Book of Jewish Food.

Listeners: Nelly Wolman

Claudia Roden talking to her granddaughter Nelly Wolman about her life in food.

Tags: food writers, The Oxford Symposium of Food and Cookery, banquet

Duration: 3 minutes, 19 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023