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Looking for the regional Italian food


In search of cucina tipica in Italy
Claudia Roden Writer
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Also, in Morocco and everywhere, but certainly in Italy, and everywhere in the Mediterranean, I was lucky to want to do regional foods and home cooking. But you could not find regional foods. You could not find local foods. Because the good restaurants in Italy everywhere, they all did French Cuisine. The same in Spain. The same in everywhere, in Egypt as well. And they hadn't yet discovered what to do for tourists, for tourism. And the tourists didn't know what to ask either. Except that when I was in Italy, they started having cucina tipica, means typical Italian in places. Because tourists began to ask, 'What do you eat here?' And when I was travelling, I was always looking for cucina tipica and I would go from place and place.

And I remember once phoning to Perugia to a restaurant there, saying... I think it was yes, saying, 'I want to come. I'm found in Italy when I said I'm writing for a newspaper', some people would be suspicious and say, 'I've already paid'. 'Paid who? We are going to pay you. We are going to pay you to cook. We are going to take photographs'. 'No, no, I've already paid'. There were a lot of people who wrote to magazines, or in Italy, who charged to write about them. And that was something in Italy, a lot of things were happening like that. But it happened a few times and I had to persuade them, 'No, we are paying you'. 

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: regional food, home cooking, tourism

Duration: 2 minutes, 20 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023