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Cooking in the Riad


Visiting friends in Morocco
Claudia Roden Writer
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The first place I went to was in Morocco. And I did... what I have tried to do was always to have a contact first if I could. And I didn't always. But I did sometimes. And this time my contact were Moroccans that I had met in the square, where I used to live. By now, I had moved. Before I split up, a year before I split up, we moved to this new house where I'm still. But those friends had come and rented a house for summer holiday. And just as they were leaving, the children were always, always playing together. And I hadn't gone to say hello to the parents. And there were the parents and an aunt. And then just before they left, I went and asked the son, 'What does your mother cook?' That's what my entree was always: what do you cook? And he said, 'We cook cuisine juive, Jewish food'. 'Oh, you do?' And so, we had two days of chatting a lot, and so we became friends. We've even exchanged houses. They had a house in France. And we're still friends. And I just spoke to them, again two weeks ago. And I think you went to their house in Morocco, in Marrakesh. But I... they said, 'When you come, you come and stay with us'. And he was a doctor. And he had a clinic in the piazza Jemaa el-Fnaa, in the square. You know, where all the people come to, the fire eaters, the snake charmers, the story tellers. The dancers. They're all in that square in Marrakesh. He has a clinic there. He had because he died, actually, a few months ago. And he was Henri. And so I... he asked me, 'What do you want to see?' And he introduced me to magician who did white magic, who had a spice shop that also sold white magic things. Actually, it was secretly white magic. It was a spice shop. Because when I went to see him in the Medina, there were a large family with lots of children, and they were Jewish too. And I was there for three days. Not sleeping there, but I went three days to watch them cooking for Shabbat. And so, he told me, it was right in the middle of the Medina. You go through all the alleyways and snaking around.

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, Medina, Marrakesh

Duration: 3 minutes, 10 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023