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'Can you give me recipes?'


Kitchen is a very intimate place
Claudia Roden Writer
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My friends sent me onto their family in Fes, in different parts of Morocco. And so, I travelled on the trains and coaches and went to the other people. And that is how I felt was the most fantastic way to travel. And I found that it was difficult as a woman travelling alone, throughout the Mediterranean. In the Middle East more difficult. But you could get around it and I found right away that on a train, I was sitting on a train, because I was still not quite 50 on that year. Or maybe just. And there was an older man who came and sat next to me on the train. Being very, very nice, over nice. And I said, 'You know, I have six children'. And he immediately said, 'Oh', with utmost respectfully afterwards. And I just thought, that's how you do it. And it was fine.

But as a woman, it was better in the sense that I was only researching ever home cooking. I wasn't doing restaurant food. And it was in homes, and women cooking, that my whole work was. And I think if it was a man, it would have been more difficult, to go around and hope that somebody will tell you, 'You can come and watch me cook'. But of course, to begin with, I had these people who were family. And I just felt, yes, it was fantastic to see the life of a country, not as a tourist, but the way people live it and be a part of it even for a few days. It's an experience. For me, it's much more interesting than going to the theatre. Because it's real life, and it's always fascinating. And people introduce you to the kitchen, when you're sitting in the kitchen, I always find that it's more intimate. You're sitting there, you talk more openly, they tell you their worries or their problems, you tell them yours. And yes, you can pour your heart out. But when I was ever received in a living room, people were very polite and very discreet.

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, home cooking, research, travelling, kitchen

Duration: 2 minutes, 55 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023