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Exploring food in Sicily


Feeling welcome in Sicily
Claudia Roden Writer
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Sicily was the first place that I went to officially. It was after having gone to the Gritti Palace, where I had just been invited personally. But when the Sunday Times started booking me, they booked me into a grand hotel in Sicily. And they asked the Trade Centre to help me to do my research. And so, I arrived in Sicily, and they had also booked me a car at the airport. And somebody at the airport who dealt with the car came out and gave me the key. And she said, 'Here it is', and I had no idea how to drive the car. But I did manage, and I started driving on the motorway, into town. And then it was a mad rush because Sicilians are mad in the traffic.

But somebody behind me thought I was extra mad or extra slow and didn't know where I was going. So, a van came ahead of me and just stopped in front of me, so I had to stop. And somebody came out, a man, and he said, 'What are doing?' And I said, 'I don't know, I don't even know my way. I had a map, but I don't even know how to drive this car'. And so, he said, 'Well, move over and I'll drive you. Where are you going?' So, he took me to the hotel. That was very nice. And then his friend with the van went on ahead. But when I got to the hotel, I had through a friend of my daughter's boyfriend, she had met somebody Sicilian on the beach in Sicily the year before. And he'd come to England. And he was her boyfriend. And he was waiting there, with his sister. And he said, because I had the car, 'We'll take you around'. And so, it was always a question of chance. What happened, where, who I met, because things that were planned didn't work. And I'll tell you why. Because they took me to their village, their town, which was called Corleone. Corleone, famously is a mafia town and city. And it was quite exciting. I went to the nursery where his sister was a teacher. And the children were all singing a welcome thing. They did a painting for me, which I had in my kitchen hanging up for, well, ever since. Until it fell in pieces. So, it was wonderful to go into places where I would never, ever have gone. And by chance.

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: Sicily, Italy

Duration: 3 minutes, 35 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023