a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


'The cook only brings the food, doesn't say anything'


Coco and Poussy
Claudia Roden Writer
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

I called this woman whom I had met in London, who had been – or maybe she was still – a member of Parliament. And she told me, 'We were invited to have drinks at my cousins'. And so, where do they live and so, over there. Immeuble Baehler. It's the Baehler Building and that was my building. And so, I thought how funny. But they were at the back of the building. Their lift. And so, I went in and there was this very distinguished man with grey hair, and she said, 'He is my cousin Coco. Coco Kousa'. 'Oh, hello'. I forget the second name, but I don't forget that one. Because 'kousa' means 'courgette'. And he was so distinguished, and he was a collector of fine art, and he was selling... he was buying and selling and collecting. He would go to Turkey, he would go to places to buy, and he would sell to Saudi. And he had all these incredible things in his flat. A very big flat and grand in the old-style way. And his servant came in and brought us drinks and mezze. And I just thought, this is wonderful.

And then there was a big painting... He had several paintings, but one... He said, 'This is my mother', and there was this beautiful woman in a green party dress. A long dress and he said, 'That's my mother when she was young. She's still around'. And then suddenly the doorbell went, and he said, 'Ah, there's my brother Poussy'. Because Egyptians love pet names. So, that was really lovely to be there. Also, the brother was very distinguished, elegant man. Grey hair and of course I dyed hair, I would have had maybe one or two grey hairs in those days. Or maybe more. And when I came back, I told my mother about going to the Baehler Building and I said there was this painting of his mother. And she said, 'Well, you know who they are. They are the Poussy and Koko that you were fighting all the time'. We were fighting downstairs in the... there was a sort of big central circle. And throwing things at each other when they appeared from our balcony. And they did to you. And I just thought, 'Oh my God, are they the ones?' Yes, they were. So, it was because I just kept thinking that it was a world that totally disappeared. But I did meet people that I knew from the past. And I realised, no, it's still there, just we went away.

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: Baehler Building, art, party, neighbours

Duration: 4 minutes, 3 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023