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Unwelcoming hunting lodge in Sardinia


Modern Italy and old props
Claudia Roden Writer
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After I arranged the first photo shoot of a lawyer in Verona, I was so embarrassed because the family put themselves out so much to prepare a fantastic feast for the photographer. And I just felt it wasn't right to keep on asking people that I met, 'Can you do a feast?', or else do some cooking for a photographer. Because it just felt... yes, I was putting people out quite a lot. And so, I decided we had to restaurants to do all the photo shoots. And that would work very well because they would get some promotion. And so, they were cooking anyway. And they were going to cook their things anyway, what they wanted to do. But then I was embarrassed then. For a different reason. Because the photographer would arrive with this big van, full of props. Because he wanted to have a broken marble tabletop. Old plates, all of them cracked. And old knives, old forks, which he had collected. And he would take them out and he would put them there. And it was a time when Italy was very, very modern. And very, very concerned with design. The architecture, they were top in design. And so, they took it as a real afront to have their name put with those photographs of a place that looked ancient. But I had to... because I would sometimes see the beginning, and sometimes even before they came, I started saying, 'You will be maybe shocked that he brings his own props'. Because, you know, he is the greatest photographer in the world, I would tell them. He's so great. But he knows what people in Britain, and in America – because the photographs are going to go in America as well – really appreciate. And how they see Italy. And they see Italy in a kind of other way, and so, this is how we went along. And it worked.

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: Italy

Duration: 2 minutes, 55 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023