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The great cuisine of Gaziantep
Claudia Roden Writer
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I go really often to Turkey, but for all kinds of reasons, like for instance, when Gaziantep became recognised by UNESCO as a city of creativity for its gastronomy. It's the city where... all the people who went to fight in Syria went through Gaziantep. Because it's on the border. And it's the city where the Syrians refugees came through in a big, big way, by the millions. Actually three million, into Turkey. And hundreds of thousands stayed in Gaziantep. And Gaziantep gave them refuge. People in their homes gave them refuge. But Gaziantep had a cuisine that was a bit like Aleppo, Syria, because it had been part of Syria. But its cuisine for some reason became very spicy hot. So, for me it's a bit too spicy hot, some of the things, not all. But some of the things that I know from my great grandfather's family, in Aleppo, like Muhammara, we made it gently spiced. In Gaziantep is hot and fiery. So, in Istanbul they made a great place in an old palace, a great banquet to celebrate the award by UNESCO to Gaziantep. Gaziantep, by the way, has a great cuisine. They have an institute of gastronomy. They taught cooking to refugee women so that they can cook as a profession in homes and in the street, to sell food. So, they had also not only had a great cuisine, but they had a good attitude to humanity. And so, UNESCO felt they should.

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: Gaziantep, Turkey, Syria

Duration: 2 minutes, 53 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023