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The businessman's not-so-impressive cooking


Egyptian nouvelle cuisine
Claudia Roden Writer
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A Lebanese man came who was a very big businessman. He said, 'Will you come tomorrow? I'll invite you and the people also from the Dutch embassy'. I think they were they, I'm not sure. And maybe they had paid for the event. 'And any friend that you what'. So, we went to the restaurant and because I had said during my talk, 'Please don't do nouvelle cuisine Egyptian. It doesn't work'. Because I knew... it was before Yotam Ottolenghi, who has done a marvellous Middle Eastern nouvelle cuisine, and other too after him. But before that it never worked. And there had been a chef in England, he was a French chef, who opened a restaurant, and he did a nouvelle cuisine that was Middle Eastern, and he invited me to dinner. And I went and I was, 'Oh God, I would never come here to pay'. Because there were things like tabouleh with mussels. Mussels with tabouleh. No. And there was a Moroccan pigeon pie. It had chicken, but it had Indian chutney. No, you can't do that. It didn't work. It needs somebody who really knows the taste for things to work. And so, I said, 'Don't'. And he came... when he came to say, 'I'm inviting you', he said, 'I'm sorry but I do nouvelle cuisine, but you will like it'. So, we went. And it was all nouvelle cuisine Egyptian.

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, Yotam Ottolenghi

Duration: 2 minutes, 11 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023