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My cookbook comes out at the right time


Mixing dishes from different communities
Claudia Roden Writer
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The first time was Ezra Kedem, he had a fashionable restaurant that was called Arcadia. And he did Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes from my earlier books. But now, he became enthralled that he could do certain dishes and say, 'It's a Jewish dish'. And so, he came, and I got a phone call saying... I was just coming back from abroad that night. And saying, 'I'm cooking these dishes, can you come?' It was on the answering machine. And I was too late. And I was going to the listen to a concert. But then I just said, 'I can come tomorrow'. I called back, and he said, 'Come tomorrow', and he came with another chef from another restaurant and, 'We'll cook for you'. And they had already done... because they had come for an event, they cooked. And I wanted to cry. I didn't cry, of course not, it's a manner of speaking. Because he had done a dish that we call ferik in Egypt. It was a sabbath dish of Egypt and it was chicken cooked in a pot with... now here it's called freekeh, with a Syrian accent, because it comes from Lebanon. And we called it ferik. And what he cooked actually it was a lamb. A piece of lamb he had cooked with ferik. And that was a sabbath dish that people cooked overnight. And then he cooked foie gras because Israel had been rearing geese and selling their livers to Hungary and to France to make foie gras. And so they made foie gras. And he put with it a dessert, or rather a jam, a chutney from Iraq. Or rather, let me see, a jam from Iraq. And a sweet aubergine preserves from Morocco, to eat with it. And I had never seen dishes from one community mixed with dishes from another community. And from three communities there... taste so good. And actually, worked together. And that for me was a great discovery. That this is what an Israeli chef did. Very soon after my book came out.

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: Ezra Kedem

Duration: 3 minutes, 10 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023