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A Jew in Lebanon


Lebanese party dishes
Claudia Roden Writer
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I learnt how my tabbouleh was wrong. So, now in Arabesque, it's his tabbouleh. My tabbouleh had been a tabbouleh that had come from Syria to Egypt at the turn of the 19th Century, when my father's family arrived. Because it came with the Jewish immigrants. Because their trade had ended in Aleppo, the caravan trade that had been on the trade routes to the east had ended and they were in Egypt. And the recipes that I got, that were Syrian, were old, because they came at that time. But all of them are still the same as they were in Syria. But the tabbouleh had a lot of bulgur, and not so much parsley. But he did it nearly all parsley and just a bit of bulgur like the restaurants, the Lebanese restaurants do now. But it had changed over the years in Lebanon, and I'll tell you why, afterwards, what those recipes represented in Lebanon.

So, his parties... he did all kinds of foods and foods particularly because he came from a Christian family, and they did lent dishes. Which they did for parties as well. It means a kibbeh with pumpkin instead of meat. They had all these vegetarian dishes, so in his parties there were all these vegetarian grand dishes. That were to me also, a discovery. And so, for me, his home... when we also went out to pick flowers, or blossoms that hung over other people's gardens. He clipped them, he put them in a vase, in a very dramatic way.

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: Lebanon

Duration: 2 minutes, 44 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023