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The New Book of Middle Eastern Food


Photographs for my cookbook
Claudia Roden Writer
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Then, because of Susan Bell, I came up with hundreds of photographs that I had taken 45 years ago, 40 years ago, 35 years ago, when I travelled. I took photographs, but I never valued them, I just thought they're not good for anything. Just for me, for me to remember. And they are photographs of people cooking. Of artisans making things. Of people selling at the market, everything is people doing foods, selling food, growing food, but it was in Morocco. In Egypt. In Turkey. All over where I travelled. And why I found it is because she said, 'I want a photograph of you, to take a photograph of you looking at an album, to look at your past'.

And then, I went and looked for family albums, and my daughter Nadia had put them somewhere and I couldn't find them. So, I opened the bottom drawer and there were some albums where I had put photographs that I'd taken in my travels. So, I showed her the album. And she took a photograph of me looking at an album. Which she didn't put in the book. But she took a lot of photographs of the family eating in the garden. They all had to test on the day when they came. But she said... she looked at the photographs, she said, 'We can use your photographs'. So, we used a few of my photographs of Egypt. And I had thought nobody would want to look at that. But yes, they were valuable. And she also saw there was only one photograph with me in it. She didn't use it, but it was a photograph of Turkish delight hanging on strings, made on strings, because that's how they're made. And behind them, was a mirror. And as I took the photograph, the photograph took a photograph of me taking the photograph in the mirror. So, it was the photograph of the mirror, image in the mirror. And so, yes, she... we didn't use that photo, but for me now, I've seen hundreds, these hundreds of photographs that are in a huge cache, that maybe one day I will, and maybe in my next book I will. And my next book will be a Middle Eastern, but different.

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, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2022

Date story went live: 04 December 2023