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The dadas of Morocco


The festival of regional foods in Morocco
Claudia Roden Writer
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That festival was fabulous, I was asked to speak about Jewish food. Which was for me a surprise. A Muslim country asking that. And I was also surprised they was another woman there talking about the Jewish food of Fez. Because it was in Fez. And she was a Jew from Fez who had gone to France, but she came back to talk about the Jews of Fez, which was really nice, because the Moroccans regretted the loss of their Jews. And they said so at the time. There was even a Jew there called Levi, who had started a Jewish Museum – I forget which city it was in – so that young children from Muslim schools could come and learn that there was once Jews there. And there are still some who are there because they haven't driven out. But the majority of the Berbers and other, Berber Jews, they had left. Because the Jews called them, they came to fetch them.

And also, there was periods of harassment, periods of a bomb, and so, that is what happened in most of the Arab countries. And so, I felt very wanted there, appreciated. And it was wonderful to get the dishes of the different regions. And we were invited once... one of the dinners was in a Riad. And there were these grand Riads that have become boutique hotels in Fez. And it was just splendid, going in, walking through a corridor when in the Medina. Opening the big door, going through a corridor which had all rose petals on the floor, and some jasmine on the floor. And you walked on that, so you came in with a good smell. And you arrived, there was this incredible courtyard with tiles and mosaics in blues and cobalt and gold and turquoise and also trees, sort of a lemon tree, and orange tree, jasmine growing. And this absolute... just for me, a dream place. It was a dream place that I found in Seville. In the old city. They also had courtyards, but Morocco was the place where you... I think you find them in Tunisia as well. But there it was just fabulous. And so, the kind of food... there was mezze that you eat. And then endless dishes that arrived, with chicken, with fish. So, there was this great grandeur that I was very happy to get. I did get it also in people's homes.

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: Morocco

Duration: 4 minutes, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023