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Cooking for my children


Family is of most importance
Claudia Roden Writer
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What I did was I had regular dinners. And invited friends. And I would call and say, 'I am doing this and that. Do you want to come?' I called them sometimes in the morning to say, 'I'm cooking this'. And I have a group of friends, some of them younger than me. Some of them the same age, we're old. A few of them have already died, sadly during the pandemic. Not because of the pandemic, but cancer or something. But it was my way of having friends that I love, would never invite people that I don't love. I did have a lot of chefs, or colleagues, because they are friends. Because they've invited me and so, it was, to me. And neighbours, all the neighbours invite me to dinner, they always used to. So, it was a way, we're going to try things. And we would sit in the dining room. I've got this big oval table. And I would try... not as many dishes together as I used to in the past, when I tested, always tested with people. Cooking, not as lab research. I wanted it to be what we loved. In the past, I could have 14 people and try the same dish in many different ways. And so which way is the best one? One is from Aleppo, one is from Gaziantep. Which one do we like best? This aubergine puree, which one? I didn't want that, I couldn't do it anymore, because I haven't got the strength.

But I'll do fewer dishes, and we will do. And so, this too, for me, was a single pleasure. And of course, my family was the most important thing in my life. It always was. When they were small and I was asked by somebody who had a lot of money, an Iraqi Jew, to be in with him in a chain of Middle Eastern restaurants, I said I can't. My family... I was the only parent around in Britain. Their father was in America. And I just thought I want to be there for them. And he asked me to be checking the restaurants, you know, checking quality control, to teach them the recipes, to go and make sure they do them. No, I'm not a free person. I've got a family.

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: family, cooking, career, friends

Duration: 3 minutes, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023