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Kitchen is a very intimate place


Magic making in Morocco
Claudia Roden Writer
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And so, I asked the man, 'Can I write...' – he was very funny actually, he was always joking. But I asked him, 'What do you do for your magic making. And who for?' And he said, 'Well, all the women want to get rid of a rival in love. Or a possible second wife. This is their main thing. And what do the men, the men are afraid of losing their virility'. Because in Morocco, if you are the boss, you are the absolute boss. But if you lose your virility, then you give the key back to the house. To the wife. Well, I don't quite know. There was a lot of things that were to me quite a surprise... When I saw a man and a woman holding hands, men and women holding hands, walking by. And I said, 'That's different from Egypt'. In Egypt you're not allowed, they're so prudish. But somebody just said, 'Well, it is only a mother and her son'. It could only be a mother and son who were holding hands.

And so, when I told the man, do you mind if I write a story about you, and he said, 'Yes. Absolutely no'. And I said, 'Is it because you're Jewish and you're worried?' And he said, 'No, it's because they don't know that I'm doing magic on the side. The tax people'. They thought he was only doing spices.

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: magic, virility

Duration: 2 minutes

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023