October 2019

Lifetime Achievement Award for Symposium President Claudia Roden

The Observer Food Monthly
Symposium Chair Elisabeth Luard on Claudia Roden’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Many congratulations to our President, Claudia Roden, on receiving her Lifetime Achievement Award at Observer Food Monthly’s annual award ceremony at the Mansion House (17.10. 2019) – and quite right too! Here’s what she said: “I am thrilled and hugely grateful to receive such a prestigious award from people I admire who have changed the way we enjoy and care about food and the way we eat. I started collecting recipes when I was twenty and became hooked on food and that is what I still do. It is wonderful now to be honoured in this way and to feel part of a vibrant community”.

In The Observer Food Monthly, our previous Chair, Bee Wilson, assesses the importance of our President’s work:

For more than five decades she [Claudia Roden] has devoted herself to the task of piecing together complex food cultures and proving that they not only exist, they must also be shared….I asked her which of her books she was most proud of. She says it’s A Book of Middle Eastern Food and The Book of Jewish Food. ‘I was the first and it mattered.’ Right from the beginning she felt a recipe was a way of recording authentic memories. This was why she went about the process in such a slow and laborious manner. All over the Mediterranean, she would arrive in a city and ‘accost people’ asking them for their favourite recipes….She spoke to strangers on trains and interviewed the elderly in old people’s homes. Each recipe she acquired felt like a treasure because it belonged to a particular culture, often one from which people had been wrenched away. ‘I had to tell these stories.’ …Few others have ever taken so seriously the idea of a recipe as heritage and her influence extends far beyond the cookbook shelf.

Symposium trustee Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire has interviewed Claudia Roden as part of the Symposium’s oral history project. Listen here.