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Slow Food talks


Alicia Rios and other food writers
Claudia Roden Writer
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It took me about five years to finish the Spanish Book. And a lot of people helped me. And it was great fun. And fantastic experience as well. But I couldn't have done it as well without people helping me. And taking part in it, you know, being so involved. One woman was Alicia Rios, who is this art performance, food performance artist. Who is great fun, but she had an incredible way of planning things for me. So, she planned visits to people, to places, to things, and she also comes from a family that had houses in different places. She had a place in Madrid, and I could stay in her studio. And she had a place in Alicante, and the first people who had a place by the sea before any tourism came.

But also, she had these masses of friends. And also, she has a house in Cadiz. But getting to know all these friends was brilliant for me. Also, she had sort of enormous information and [was] generous. So generous to give all these recipes. She had written a book with a woman called Lourdes Marsh, with one of the great food writers of Spain. And together they had done a history with paintings. Paintings of Spain and Lourdes Marsh gave me particularly many recipes on rice. And when I went to see her, she was so generous. They had come to England, I had known her before and I said, 'Lourdes, do you mind giving me your recipes?' She said, 'I use your recipes all the time, in my books'. Because she had written a book on the Mediterranean.

The same thing happened to me in Italy. I went to Lorenza de Medici, who had an estate and a cookery school, had written many books. When I went to her for recipes in Tuscany, she said she had my book there. The Middle Eastern Book. And the Mediterranean Book. The two, and they had stickers everywhere. And she said, 'Because I've been asked to do a Mediterranean cookbook. They didn't know anything about Middle Eastern food'. So, they were using my information. So, somehow the idea of a Mediterranean cookbook was new, after I had done mine. And somehow publishers in different countries decided they wanted one as well. So, yes, this kind of contacts, which I had with professionals, with colleagues, and we exchange information. And very often, exchange invitations that Alicia came to stay here, in my house a few times. And so, I think that helped very much in my work. 

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: Alicia Rios, Lourdes March

Duration: 3 minutes, 43 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023