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Photographs for my cookbook


Recipes that trigger memories
Claudia Roden Writer
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Once the book was in their hands, the editors here said... I said, 'Do you want history?' 'No, no'. So, I was glad. She didn't want history. But she wanted stories because story telling is now part of the fashion of cookbooks. They say: recipes and stories. Many books that are coming out now are sub-titled recipes and stories. And I am... as you can see, I've got lots. And so, they didn't want too many. They wanted them in certain parts of the book where there was space. But I wanted photographs. And they wanted photographs. But the photographer we chose, I chose, with them, they gave me two photographers to choose from. But there was one called Susan Bell, who had a romantic look. It means that the light was dappled. There was something about the leaves outside, there something about the colour of the house or the room or what she put on the table. That was... for me, triggered memories. Because all the recipes are recipes that triggered memories of magic moments in the Mediterranean. Of a fabulous meal. Of people that I met. Of fun times. And her photographs, because of the way she photographed, I said yes, Susan Bell. But then as soon as she was told, she had to travel the Mediterranean, she couldn't travel anywhere. She could only travel to one place. It was a fishing village in Tuscany. And she went there for three days only. And she took photographs. She took lots of photographs of the sea. So, there's lots of photographs of the sea in the book. But I was unhappy, and so were they. And so, we just thought we've got to find more. What do we find? And she had more from previous things she had done. So, she had other recipes. And the designer, whom I loved his work, Dave Brown. He did the cover for us, which was the sea in this beautiful way. And he was a photographer as well, and he had photographs of landscape, and because landscape is as important and more important than the sea. Because the cuisine is not just the fish. It's hardly the fish. It's things that grow. Things that are raised on the land. The market places. It's the land.

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: Susan Bell

Duration: 3 minutes, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023