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The joy of travelling alone


Exploring the Mediterranean culture
Claudia Roden Writer
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But I did get to meet a lot of interesting people who came. And who... some of them are still friends. In fact, one of them is my sister-in-law, a new sister-in-law. Gill came to the course. And I had men coming to the course as well. Because I did daytime, weekends, evenings, and we cooked. And then we had dinner. And we ate what we cooked. And I told stories as well about... tales about those dishes. And yes. And so, that was really a part of my life. And then, also I learnt a lot from them. I learnt how much they needed to know. How much more you should say in a recipe. And also, what they like doing best and it was really, really interesting.

But, when my children left home, they all left home at the same time, because the elder two have... Simon and Nadia had been at home for their studies. Simon had been in Sheffield for architecture, but he then went to Camberwell. Not to Camberwell, sorry. Another place. My daughter did art at Camberwell. But when they had finished that year, Anna left for... my youngest left for university. So, I just thought, 'I can't bear to be alone here'. Now, I don't mind being alone. But then, suddenly an empty house. And I said, 'I'm going away', also on the same day. But it wasn't exactly the same day. But I decided to travel around the Mediterranean. Because I really felt the need to be in that world. Because Cairo isn't in the Mediterranean, but Alexandria is. And somehow there is a Mediterranean culture that I found in every port city. And also, in all the regions near the sea.

Apart from the food, that is the food that I've always loved, and I found that there is something about the way of being. The way of joking. The whole culture of hospitability. Of making something of a meal. Of being around a table and chatting and joking and spending time, having time for each other. And all these mezzes, the tapas. But also this is something where you feel you have in common. And of course, I spoke nearly all the languages from around the sea. And so, I just did feel at home. There is a saying that if you're from anywhere around the Mediterranean, you're never a stranger anywhere, around the sea. And this is really how I felt.

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: cooking, dinner, tales, Mediterranean culture, food, travel

Duration: 3 minutes, 33 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023