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The Couscous or Gefilte Fish conference


Steak and chips for Shabbat
Claudia Roden Writer
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I had friends as well. There was Ada Rapoport who became the Head of Jewish Studies at University College. But I also had people in Israel. And this is very important, most important for me now, that I did go to Israel early on, because they had published my Middle Eastern Food. They published it early and the publisher told me, 'We're publishing you, but we don't think we're going to sell it, because we don't like this kind of food. It's our enemy culture. It's culture we despise now. People despise. And we want all the food that immigrants, our Israelis who have come from Arab countries, we want our Jews who have come from Arab countries to leave their culture behind. We want them to forget it all. We don't want them to cook their dishes, or their children to know their dishes'. It was strange thing, and I did find out that children, when they were told to bring dishes from their home to school, when some teachers wanted to see who appreciated the food of the diaspora, they would come, they were embarrassed and they would be asked, 'What did you mother cook for Shabbat?' And they would say, 'Steakim and chipsim'. Because they were sure it wasn't anything that would embarrass them. And yes, to be a Sephardi in Israel was a very low thing to be at the time, and you had to be as quickly as possible a European and an Israeli and a new person. 

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: Israel, Ada Rapoport

Duration: 2 minutes, 18 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023