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Discovering the food of Lebanon


The Couscous Festival
Claudia Roden Writer
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My research in Lebanon was really my huge great respect for a man called Kamel Muzawak. A young man then. And actually, is still a young man, whom I met in Italy. We were both invited there to be on the jury of a couscous festival. The Couscous Festival invited all the couscous making countries. And actually Palestine, Lebanon and Israel make a kind of couscous which is fat, almost like a tiny chickpea. It's like a fat pasta. It's not the couscous that we know as couscous. But they were all invited because it's called couscous as well. But people from Africa and North Africa, and Italy... Italy makes couscous. And it was a very, very grand affair. Like the Olympics, with people coming with their trays of couscous, with the national anthem of the country and their flag. But another person on the jury was a woman, Moroccan chef, was a food writer as well. And she was called Fatima Hal. And at the end of the couscous festival, we said, 'Let's go on holiday together, the three of us'. And so, we went around, we went to Palermo, and we had a great time. But after that, Kamel is my friend, forever now. We still even now phone each other. He's in Paris now.

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: Kamel Muzawak, Fatima Hal

Duration: 2 minutes, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023