When it comes to culinary anthropology, Claudia Roden is a giant – the March cookbook selection is a book that had a huge influence on not only my food, but my life.
My dearest cookbook addicts, I’m really hoping that you’ve enjoyed January’s cookbook selection “One Pan Perfect” by Donna Hay – and if all the photos on our Facebook page are any indication, it would seem that you did! I just know that you’re going to love Annabel Langbein as our February selection and don’t forget – we can cook from her new book Bella, any of her previous 25 (!) books or her online recipes. There’s heaps, and there’s something for every food taste.
I’ve pondered hard on the March cookbook in Lamb’s Ears Cookbook Club and have decided to go with Claudia Roden, the woman who first inspired me to expand my culinary palate and repertoire way back in the 1970s. A co-chair of The Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery and a noted cultural anthropologist, she was awarded a CBE in 2020 for her services to food culture, and is the high priestess of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking in the UK. Roden has written countless books focusing on Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and North African food, beginning with her first published work in 1960.
I discovered her in the late 70s when, living in a share house, I found myself having to suddenly provide a meal for a large group which included vegetarians. Clearly my two-dish range of either roast lamb or spaghetti bolognese needed some urgent augmentation, and a hurried scan of the local bookshop shelves revealed just one cookbook that was going to help me – Claudia Roden’s “Book of Middle Eastern Food”.
I was immediately taken by her writing – I was engaged by the way each recipe was introduced with a story of where or how she sourced it, and of the women who cooked it. It definitely kindled my academic interest in the culinary arts and changed the way I look at food and it’s origins forever.
Claudia Roden has a new cookbook out, called Med here in Australia, but I’m feeling nostalgic so for our March cookbook I’ve opted for the updated and expanded version of that first book of hers that I discovered, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, which was published in 2000. The original version of this cookbook, which I found in paperback, will also certainly suffice if that is all you can find.
Don’t forget that there will be many recipes from the book online, or you can purchase the online version of the March cookbook which will be in full, glorious colour on your tablet. It’s also definitely worth sniffing around second hand book dealers for this one – it’s a wonderful seminal work to have and to keep. Here you’ll find a huge amount of authentic dishes – all of which are deeply flavourful, and many of which are deceptively simple.
So here’s how we’re shaping up so for in 2022.
Our year-long cookbook is Neil Perry’s Everything I Love To Cook.