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The new Mediterranean cookbook


Slow Food talks
Claudia Roden Writer
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After the BBC Mediterranean television series, I was asked by many publishers to do another Mediterranean, or rather one publisher asked me to do. I wrote An Invitation to Mediterranean Cookery, which was vegetarian and fish. So, I went on collecting new recipes. They were completely different. But then there were smaller books, Mediterranean for Sainsbury's, for instance. So, I went on doing Mediterranean recipes. But a few years ago I was invited by my cousin who was from Italy, my cousin Donald Sassoon, who was doing history festivals in Genoa in Italy. And each of them had a theme war – all kinds of themes, but when it came to food, he asked me to speak. And I said, 'Do you want me to speak about Italian food?' 'No, no, we've got a lot of people speaking about Italian food'. He said, 'Can you speak on Mediterranean?' And so, I started thinking again about the Mediterranean in a different way. And also, falling in love with the Mediterranean again. Just thinking, wow, this is great.

Of course, I went there, we were invited to banquets and it was fabulous. And then after that, there is an organisation called Slow Food., in Italy, in Turin. And they invited me to come and speak about Mediterranean food. So, I was there speaking about Mediterranean food. And they are all Mediterranean countries, but they didn't really think about Mediterranean, and for me it was, apart from the individual dishes, that there was so much variety, every village, every seaport, every city, had dishes. There was so much difference. But at the same time, there was something in common. And for me, I studied what is in common. I saw the same things in the market. People use the same utensils to cook. And I found similar dishes that were different. The taste was different because they used a different wine. Or a different cheese, they use a local cheese and a local wine, or something, somewhere they would make a sauce with walnuts. In another place they would make it with pistachios, or with almonds. But for me, I was aware of what was the same. What was different and why. And so, I did a talk in Turin for Slow Food.

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: An Invitation to Mediterranean Cooker

Duration: 3 minutes, 30 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023