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Jewish dafinas


My Jewish odyssey
Claudia Roden Writer
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The food of the Ashkenazi Jews, the Jews originating in Eastern and Central Europe, was known. People could go to delis, they could buy bagels, they could go to a Jewish restaurant. It was limited of what they knew, but they knew it. But nobody knew anything at all about the food of the Jews, the Sephardic Jews of the Middle East, the Mediterranean. And now they are called Mizrahi as well. Mizrahi, being from Arab lands. And so, I just went on. And in the end Gill Norman had left Penguin, my editor, long ago. And it was my American publisher, my editor Judith Jones, who took a big interest in the book. And we would meet regularly, either in New York, because I went to New York a lot. She was my editor there. When they bought the rights for the Middle Eastern Book and other books as well. And she would come to London, and we would go out to dinner, we would meet in Paris. And we'd go out to dinner, and she stayed here, I stayed at her place in New York. And she kept asking me, 'How are you getting on?' And she was so interested that I kept on. It was her interest and her continual interest that made me really push on and carry on and do things.

And suddenly she said, 'No, give it to me, Claudia'. I said I haven't found the Jews. Later on I found Jews I left out, like the Jews of Afghanistan. The Jews of Sarajevo. I missed them because I hadn't met them. And so, she said, 'Claudia. you can't write the encyclopaedia of everything that Jews have eaten, ever in the world. This is your odyssey'. And we did, it was called The Book of Jewish Food, that was her idea. And we had already called The Book of Middle Eastern Food. I think I copied that idea from Elizabeth David. And in their sub-title, they called it, An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York. And in the English edition the publisher decided to call it An Odyssey from Samarkand to the present day. I did have a lot of recipes from Samarkand. Actually, the Bukharan Jews are great, great in food.

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: The Book of Jewish Food

Duration: 3 minutes, 16 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023