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Realising people buy my cookbook


Collecting handwritten recipes
Claudia Roden Writer
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I didn't know how to type, and I didn't have a typewriter. And I wrote everything by hand. And I wrote them in lined papers from Smiths. And I still do. It's still the same writing pads that I did then, that I do now. And I wrote, of course, longhand. But eventually, I had a wonderful, wonderful woman, a lady, an old lady, to type them. She typed my handwritten. But I should have said that I didn't leave... the Middle Eastern Book isn't all my family. Because I just became so interested that I wanted to discover what everybody in Morocco, in Turkey ate. Not just the Jews who left those countries and came to Egypt.

And so, I had a period – but that was before I decided to do the book – I had a period when I would go, for instance, to an embassy, and... where can I find Iranians? And I would go to the embassy, and they said, 'Have you come here for a...' – in those days, it was all pretty open and all that – 'for a visa?' And I said, 'No, I've come to find people who could give me recipes'. And, oh, they were very, very curious. I would sit there, and I would ask people sitting there. And they would... actually told me, 'Come around to eat'. And I went. And I have their recipes in their handwriting. Because they read handwritten recipes. They gave them to me.

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: handwriting, recipes, embassy

Duration: 1 minute, 54 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023