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Magic making in Morocco


Cooking in the Riad
Claudia Roden Writer
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So Henri, on the first day, said, 'I'll introduce you first to this man'. I forgot his name, but he didn't want me to tell his name. But the magic man didn't want me to tell his name. But he said, 'They really cook really well'. And he said, 'When patients come to me that I can't cure them, I send them to him'. And he gives them an amulet, he gives them something and it lasts one year. When they think it's faded. So, they come back to ask for another one, and they also come and see me. So, they lived in a Riad. But the Riad was lived in by many families. And they all had sort of their rooms on the top floor, on the first floor. They also had a kitchen with an oven. But they never used the oven. The oven had lace on it. Because they didn't want to use it. They were cooking always in the courtyard. And the other families were cooking in the courtyard as well. And I think they were the only Jews. And they were there and from Thursday, the mother and the daughters were cooking and cooking. And then it was quite incredible. Some of the dishes, I would think, oh God. Try to stop him, like they cook fish. And they cook fish for half an hour. I say, 'No, no, take this off'. 'No, that's how we do it'.

But they also had their Sabbath dish in a pot. And it was a chicken that was stuffed with ground almonds, mixed with sugar and dates. And then it was really good. But then I could say, sugar, are you putting sugar in? 'Yes', he said, 'you can have it for pudding'. But that was actually a very ancient Moroccan Jewish Sabbath dish. And then we also went to the bakery with everyone. Holding the pots to the bread oven. We put them there to be collected on the Saturday. And it was incredible to see something from another age which was still going on.

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: Riad, magician, cooking, Sabbath

Duration: 2 minutes, 43 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023