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In search for ingredients


Student life in London
Claudia Roden Writer
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So, my brother was studying medicine. And then I finished, and I wanted to stay in Paris and to study film. And I wanted to do science. But my parents just said no, there's no question. And so, they wanted me to live with my brother and to go... the only thing I could do because I didn't have my A Levels, I couldn't go to university anyway, and so I did art. And I did like art. And I liked the art scene. I liked being there.

We had a great time there as well. And the friendships there. And the teachers. And I lived... actually, my younger brother then came to live with us, and he went to a French Lycée in London. And my brother was at Guys Hospital. And I was at St Martins School of Art. And I was cooking. The food in London then was horrible. We couldn't believe how anybody could eat it. The foods in canteens, like at the hospital, and at school. It was just awful. And in anywhere where we could eat, we could afford, because my parents sent us money, and we kept saving it and saving it. And we tried not to spend. But the only type of food we could eat was horrible. You couldn't tell what you were eating. You know like a stew, where you couldn't see if... it was all brown or beige. And it was also, then the best thing was macaroni cheese or cauliflower cheese. And it was that. And so, cooking for me was important. And so, I bought a book by Elizabeth David, called Mediterranean Cooking. And I cooked out of her book. But I also cooked dishes that we knew. And so, a lot of my friends, until now, tell me they remember coming and eating stuffed vine leaves, stuffed vegetables, things that they had never ever eaten. And it was difficult to get the things that I needed to do our cooking.

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: Mediterranean Cooking, Elizabeth David

Duration: 2 minutes, 49 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023