Claudia Roden

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Claudia Roden
Roden in the chair at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, 2012
Claudia Douek

1936 (age 87–88)
Occupation(s)cookbook writer and cultural anthropologist
SpousePaul Roden (divorced)
RelativesEllis Douek (brother)

Claudia Roden CBE (née Douek; born 1936) is an Egyptian-born British cookbook writer and cultural anthropologist of Sephardi/Mizrahi descent.[1][2][3][4][5][6] 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 Arabesque—Sumptuous Food from Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon.[2][3][5][7][8]

Early life[edit]

Roden was born in 1936 in Cairo, Kingdom of Egypt, the daughter of Cesar Elie Douek and his wife Nelly Sassoon.[1] Her parents were from prominent Syrian-Jewish merchant families who migrated from Aleppo in the previous century; she grew up in Zamalek, Cairo, with two brothers, the surgeon Ellis Douek, and Zaki Douek.[9][10][6]

She was Egypt's national backstroke swimming champion at the age of 15.[9]

In 1951 Roden moved to Paris and went to boarding school for three years. In 1954 she moved to London where she studied painting at St. Martin's School of Art. She shared a flat with her brothers Ellis Douek and Zaki Douek. In the London flat Roden, while preparing the meals for her brothers, started to experiment with cooking. She remembered family recipes from Alphandary, pies with aubergine and spinach, and mint and lamb. Both were foods not often cooked in London in that period and so finding ingredients in London was an adventure.[11]

She did not return to Egypt for a quarter of a century, well after her family and most of Cairo's Jewish community had been expelled; many of her books reflect her longing for the close communal culture that was lost, especially as expressed in the culinary arts and social occasions associated with them.[12][6]


Besides her numerous cookery volumes, Roden has also worked as a food writer and a cooking show presenter for the BBC.[13]

Food writers and chefs such as Melissa Clark and Yotam Ottolenghi have credited her with playing a large role in introducing the food of Egypt in particular and the Middle East in general to Britain and the United States. Paul Levy classes her with such other food writers as Elizabeth David, Julia Child, Jane Grigson, and Sri Owen who, from the 1950s on, "deepened the conversation around food to address questions of culture, context, history and identity."[6] Her many cookbooks, Clark writes, have "produced a genre of works that is at once literary and deeply researched while still being, at heart, practical manuals on how to make delicious meals."[6]


President (previously co-chair) of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery (2012 – present)[14]

Honorary Fellow of University College London (2008)[15]

Visiting Fellow Yale University, USA (2010 – 2011)[16]

Honorary Fellow of the School of Oriental and African Studies (2012)[16]

Personal life[edit]

In 1959, she married Paul Roden, a clothes importer, and they separated after 15 years.[9] They had three children.[9][17]

She has lived in Hampstead Garden Suburb since the early 1970s.[17]

Activities and awards[edit]

Claudia Roden (right) and Paul Levy (centre) among panellists at the Oxford Symposium, 2006


  • 1968: A Book of Middle Eastern Food, ISBN 978-0-394-71948-1 (reprint)
  • 1970: A New Book of Middle Eastern Food, ISBN 978-0-14-046588-4 (reprint)
  • 1978 Coffee, (Faber & Faber 1978) New updated edition Pavilion (1994) ISBN 978-1-85793-341-3
  • 1981: Picnic: The Complete Guide to Outdoor Food, ISBN 978-0-14-046920-2 (reprint)
  • 1986: Middle Eastern Cooking, ISBN 0-7445-0653-0
  • 1987: Mediterranean Cookery, accompanied The BBC TV series (BBC Books 1987, newly enlarged edition Penguin Classic 1998) ISBN 978-0-14-027278-9 (reprint)
  • 1990: The Food of Italy, ISBN 978-0-09-927325-7 (reprint)
  • 1992: Claudia Roden's Invitation to Mediterranean Cooking: 150 Vegetarian and Seafood Recipes, ISBN 978-0-330-39169-6 (reprint)
  • 1995: Everything Tastes Better Outdoors, ISBN 0-517-12234-0 (reprint)
  • 1996: The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand and Vilna to the Present Day, ISBN 978-0-14-046609-6 (reprint)
  • 1999: Coffee: A Connoisseur's Companion, ISBN 978-1-86205-283-3
  • 1999: Tamarind and Saffron: Favourite Recipes from the Middle East, ISBN 978-0-14-046694-2 (reprint)
  • 2000: The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, ISBN 0-375-40506-2
  • 2001: Picnics: And Other Outdoor Feasts, ISBN 978-1-904943-17-4 (reprint)
  • 2003: Claudia Roden's Foolproof Mediterranean Cooking, ISBN 978-0-563-53496-9
  • 2003: Foreword to Traditional Moroccan Cooking by Madame Guinaudeau, ISBN 1-897959-43-5 (reprint)
  • 2004: The Arab-Israeli Cookbook: The Recipes, with Robin Soans, ISBN 978-0-9515877-5-1
  • 2005: Arabesque - Sumptuous Food from Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon, ISBN 978-0-7181-4581-1
  • 2006: Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon, ISBN 978-0-307-26498-5
  • 2007: Simple Mediterranean Cookery, ISBN 978-0-563-49327-3
  • 2011: The Food of Spain, ISBN 978-0-06-196962-1
  • 2021: Claudia Roden’s Mediterranean, ISBN 978-1-9848-5974-7


  1. ^ a b "Claudia Roden | Jewish Women's Archive". 20 March 2009. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  2. ^ a b Rachel Cooke (18 March 2012). "Claudia Roden: interview | Life and style | The Observer". London: Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  3. ^ a b "YaleNews | Renowned Food Writer Claudia Roden To Serve Up Lecture at Yale". 12 October 2010. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  4. ^ Camas, Joanne. "A Conversation with Claudia Roden at". Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Activities". Prince Claus Fund. 17 December 2011. Archived from the original on 30 July 2013. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e Clark, Melissa (1 November 2021). "Traveling the World for Recipes, but Always Looking for Home". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  7. ^ Claudia Roden (24 March 2010). "Claudia Roden from HarperCollins Publishers". Archived from the original on 24 January 2012. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  8. ^ Weigel, David (6 December 2006). "Claudia Roden's new cookbook, Arabesque, an excellent primer on the Middle East. - Slate Magazine". Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  9. ^ a b c d Pownall, Elfreda (13 July 2014). "Claudia Roden: an interview with the champion of Middle Eastern food". Retrieved 2 April 2018 – via
  10. ^ "Jews of Egypt, with Dr Ellis Douek". 17 August 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Claudia Roden". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  12. ^ Roden, Claudia (1996). The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand and Vilna to the Present Day. New York: Knopf. pp. Passim. ISBN 9780394532585.
  13. ^ "Claudia Roden". IMDb. Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  14. ^ "About us". Oxford Food Symposium. Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  15. ^ "Ms Claudia Roden | Staff | SOAS University of London". 31 October 2008. Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  16. ^ a b "Ms Claudia Roden, Honorary Fellow, SOAS, University of London". Archived from the original on 8 January 2021. Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  17. ^ a b Lewis, Tim (18 May 2014). "Claudia Roden: 'My kids preferred beans on toast to hummus and pitta'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Past Winners". Jewish Book Council. Archived from the original on 5 June 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  19. ^ "our patrons". The Food Chain. 22 February 1999. Archived from the original on 9 April 2012. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  20. ^ "Past winners of the Andre Simon Memorial Fund Awards - the annual awards for food and drink books". Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  21. ^ "Claudia Roden | Contributors | Frieze". Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  22. ^ "Claudia Roden". David Higham Associates. Retrieved 30 July 2022.
  23. ^ Bee Wilson, "OFM Awards 2019: Lifetime achievement – Claudia Roden" in The Observer (20 October 2019)
  24. ^ "No. 63571". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 2022. p. N10.

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