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Michael Joseph


Manolo El Sereno
Claudia Roden Writer
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What was most fantastic was there were chefs who brought dishes to be eaten at the festival that they cooked in their restaurants, that was their home in their garden, they had tables. They always cooked dishes that they were inspired from medieval Arabic manuscript, translated into Spain. So, it was from the 13th Century. And they made all these dishes, pies and things, and people threw themselves at them. I couldn't get anything because I came too late to get. Because people just gobbled everything. And it was to show the influence of Arab food. And really it was Arab food, particularly and Jewish food as well. And so, after going there I went to stay at Manolo's. And Manolo had become the President of the Gastronomic Society of Jaén, a whole region. He was somebody who – he lived with his sister – who is invalid. And he grew almonds and made gazpacho with almonds. He grew everything. And he was the most loved person in the village, which was called... suddenly I've got a blank. It will come. But because he was a nightwatchman, and he was out every night and he saw all the burglars... And he told them off and he stopped them burglarising. Because of them... they were not burglarising, because he always let them off. But he stopped them. But also, he was a personality, a character. And Michael Joseph had fallen for him also, because when Michael was writing his book about the region, and also about a cinema that had been there... I'm laughing because there is a reason to laugh. Manolo had let him stay for two years and fed him, while he was doing his research and his book and things. 

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: Manolo El Sereno

Duration: 3 minutes

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023