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Regional cuisine in Turkey


Meeting President Erdoğan
Claudia Roden Writer
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I was sitting at a table there and Erdoğan came to give a talk. UNESCO gave a talk. There were lots of people that I knew from Gaziantep came. And they were sitting at my table some of them. But when Erdoğan came, he just started complaining about all the countries that hadn't helped the Syrian refugees. He was ranting about it. And then when he was told by somebody to say something about Gaziantep, he said, 'Yes, we're very proud of the food of Gaziantep. But all our cities have a great cuisine'. Which was a bit unfair for Gaziantep. He didn't really give them enough honour. And then somebody came to my table, there was an American called Charles Perry, who is a friend of mine, who was translating those same medieval manuscripts that I had.

He had learnt about them when I put them in my book. And he went and did a great huge research again and translated these books. And he had gone to Gaziantep and written about... they were the best country in the world for pistachios. And for baklava. And so, suddenly somebody came and said, 'Erdoğan wants to speak to you'. And so, he was terrified, you know. What did I say. And he went to speak to Erdoğan and Erdoğan asked him, 'Do you like baklava?' And that's all he asked him, and he came back to the table, and what must have happened, that somebody went to tell Erdoğan there are foreign journalists here who have come to write about our food. And one of them is an American who has written about baklava. And so, he said probably, 'All right, I'll speak to him'.

Yes, so, really a lot of my best memories were not only about Nevin, but her brothers. Because her brothers whom I... the last one who was still alive, I met in December. Who is the younger, she was the youngest. They took us all around Turkey. And they took us, for instance, to Konya, where they were from. 

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, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Charles Perry

Duration: 2 minutes, 55 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023