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Meeting people passionate about food
Claudia Roden Writer
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One woman who was there was a cooking teacher. And she was from Friuli, and she said, 'Why don't you come to Friuli, and I'll take you around'. So, I went to Friuli. We hired a car and we drove around, and she showed me a lot more places. There was for me this thing that I kept meeting people who told me, 'I'll take you'. So, she then, after a day of going around and doing things, she said, 'I'll phone...' – I forget his name, this man who has a foundry in Venice. And he is the President of an association called i passionati di cucina. It means, people who are passionate about food. They are not chefs. They are passionate about food. And they are a club, with every region having its division. 'And go and meet him and he will give you all these phone numbers'. And so, she called him, and she said, 'I'll put her on the train, and will you pick her up in Venice'. So, I was on the train from Friuli, and I went back to Venice.

And there was this man, and he has a foundry, and he took me back to his place. And he wanted to show me that he had invented, with his pieces of metal, how to make something, a kind of grill, to put a fish in. You put a fish in, and you cook the fish in that grill. And you turn it around and all that. And so, we were there in front of his fire, the fire was roaring. And he had this fish. He put it in, a big fish, in a stand and he put it by the fire. And we sat there, and he had peperonata that he had made, with peppers. And onions, and it was sweet and sour. And we took the fish, we ate the fish. And then he gave me the list and the phone numbers of a passionati di cucina in Bologna, in Moderna, in different regions. And for me this could not have been better. Can you imagine. People who really love food. And then he said, 'Wait a minute, but I'll do some phoning'. And so, he phoned Verona. 'Can you look after her?' 'Yes.' So, I went to Verona.

And then I went on, and he had phoned several people. And they weren't cooks, one was a lawyer, one was an architect, actually, who had redesigned and revitalised the architecture of an old, old city. We went around together and the person, the lawyer who was a passionate di cucina, had a fantastic house with a garden. And we went, and his wife had cooked already. Because they cooked all the time anyway. And I just thought, this is heaven.

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: Friuli

Duration: 3 minutes, 36 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023