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Lycée Hélene Boucher


From England to Paris
Claudia Roden Writer
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When I was 15 my parents sent me to Paris. I have to say, they sent me to Britain first, to get my GCSE. Because I had done almost... I had done two terms at the English School Cairo. I was really very young but in Egypt we took the exams young. And so, I had only one more term and they sent me to London – not to London really, to a boarding school in Horsham – to take my exams. And I did, and I passed. I passed all of them, which was something like 11.

But I was really, really unhappy. Because the girls were going to be presented to the Queen and they were all into horses and lacrosse and they weren't at all interested in passing exams. I think I was the only one in the school, and the foreign girls who were there, were Iranians. And we stuck together. But the real reason why my parents sent me was that my younger brother had had a terrible badly operated ear problem. He had mastoiditis. And he had infection, then a mastoiditis, and it means that the infection had affected even the bone in his skull. And he was in great danger. At the same time my elder brother had been in England, had done his O Levels and he was going to study medicine. And because my younger brother went to Paris to be operated there by one of the greatest specialists, my mother went with him. So, my father was at home with me, and it was difficult for him. And so, they decided the best thing would be that I'd go to England. And then to Paris because my brother, after his operation, had to stay in Paris to be near the doctor. Because he would keep needing treatment for one or two years. And so, if I was there, we would be supporting each other. And so, yes, I went to Paris. And for me that was one of the most fantastic times in my life.

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: Paris

Duration: 3 minutes, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 26 November 2023