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Coco and Poussy


A bowl of different lentil soup
Claudia Roden Writer
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One woman came out of her house. She looked at me and she said, 'Would you like a cup of tea?', in Arabic. And I said, 'Thank you'. And we came and we sat, the kitchen was the front room. It was small, of course. And there were chairs and she said, 'Sit on a chair'. And then I saw there was a smell of lentil soup. And there was a pot on the hob and then I just said, 'Can I have the lentil soup?' And so, she really heated it up a bit, and she gave me a bowl of lentil soup, but she didn't eat, and she waited until I finished. And it was like ours, but a bit different with a spicing. And it's in the Med Book, actually. I put it in there. Because it's always one of our family recipes. And then she just said, 'Where's your husband?' And I said, 'Rah', means: 'He left'. And then I said, 'Where's yours?' And then she said, 'Mat' – 'he died' – with a big smile. And so, we just sat there and then I left. And then I was just thinking, yes, it's funny that also in the kitchen, even there... maybe she wouldn't have asked me if I was in the street. But because I was in the kitchen, there was an intimacy. But that is the kind of questions a lot of people were asking. Because still, women didn't travel alone.

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: Egypt

Duration: 2 minutes, 21 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023