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.


Chefs are inspired by my cookbook


Realising people buy my cookbook
Claudia Roden Writer
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

I would go to a carpet warehouse. Where I would think I'd meet Iraqis. And yes, they were Iraqis. But they turned out to be Jews as well. But I would say... They would say, 'Do you want to buy a carpet?' 'No', I said, 'can I meet your wife, and could you give me a recipe? Could she give me a recipe?'

I went to the Moroccan embassy. And so, I would go looking for students who came from different countries. And so, yes, I made it a hugely big enterprise. Because by the time it came out, it was 1968. And more or less I had started in 1956. Just collecting. But for me, it was a way of life. I didn't see it as my job. It was... I was having children; I was having people for dinner. And I had something interesting to actually do. To work on. So, for me it had... I never saw it as hard job to get to a publisher. So, by the time I got to a publisher, then I had them typed. And they were printed. And it became... nobody really noticed it at first, when it was in hardback. But it's when it was in paperback that it became known more. But slowly, quite slowly.

But then I realised gradually that young people were buying it and using it. It was young people because they were travelling. They were travelling to Morocco. They were travelling backpacking, and they were at university. Also, they were not cooking what their mother cooked. Because in the past people cooked what their mother cooked. But their mother was no longer giving them... showing them how to cook. I think it was something to do with war time or whatever. But they wanted to cook foreign food. And that kind of food was cheap. Lentils and chickpeas, and rice, and bulgur. And I gradually realised that people were buying the book.

And that Sainsbury's were the first to ask me what should they stock. And I said, what about stocking bulgur and couscous, and chickpeas, and a whole lot of things which they didn't get to stock. And then I realised Marks and Spencer... my mother went to tea at friends, they would have card games. And they would have lunch together, and one day she came, she said, 'They had all our things'. You know, phyllo, the same filling, and they said they bought them at Marks and Spencer. And I just thought, what?

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: publishing, cookbook, cooking, Sainsbury’s, stock

Duration: 3 minutes, 36 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023