Like a genie out of a bottle, a whole culture, perfumed, aromatic, deep and complex, emerged from this book when we first opened its pages. We suddenly changed from good old roasts to kitchens piled with pine nuts, pistachios and almonds, with saffron, apricots, sumach and preserved lemons. And it all works - yes, you really can make a spit and roast a whole lamb on it and learn the origins of the Méchoui at the same time - that is definitely the spirit I want in a cookery book.
I had this book early on, when my childhood in Syria and the tastes I loved there was still vivid. Claudia is not only a brilliant and inspiring writer; her recipes are also completely reliable as she tests them out herself in her own kitchen which should be a must for guiding the home cook and is by no means usual now in today’s chef and TV cook’s world. This like all Claudia’s books is for reading as well as cooking.
Award-winning food writer and author. Columnist at The Sunday Telegraph
I bought this along with the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook and both books moved between my bedside table and my kitchen for years. This is food in a cultural context and I was blown away by the fact that someone was writing about food in this way, working as an anthropologist as well as a cook. The prose is elegant and the recipes are terrific. I’ve cooked nearly every dish in here.
Food writer and editor
This was one of the first books that I bought and cooked from as a student and it’s one that I still refer to constantly today. It’s everything I want from a cookbook: part social anthropology, part personal history and part recipes. Few can match Roden’s knowledge of the region; for me it’s the benchmark.
Food writer and historian
Without this book, there would arguably have been no Moro, no Ottolenghi, no Persiana. Its influence on British cooking has been huge. I am reminded of Roden every time I eat a tabbouleh or an orange and almond cake. The great surprise is that the recipes - from 1968 - remain as fresh as ever.
When I wanted to learn more about Middle Eastern cooking, an author recommended I read this book. It remains my number one resource. Not only does it contain a comprehensive collection of recipes from this vast region but it also shares the context behind the recipes.
Farmer's market organizer
Hard to choose between this and the book of Jewish food. I love the way Claudia writes, the breadth of historical detail and the way recipes come to life. My first edition fell apart, so I was delighted with the new revised edition.
The first cook book I really read and still dive into regularly, 30 years later. All Claudia Roden's books are inspirational but this opened up an entirely new world of food and culture not just to me but to the British nation.
I discovered how to make hummus and rethink non-European cuisines thanks to Claudia’s book. Today I also value the way it shows what food can mean; here we see how it holds together community in exile.
Again this is to do with my parents wonderful cooking when I was a child. It wasn't until I tried to cook myself that I realised how many of my favourite of my Mum's dishes originate here.
Author and celebrity cook
Amazingly researched, passionate, authentic writing and food, and the first to introduce us to a magical world of flavours from the Middle East.
Chef and author
When I only owned three cookbooks, this was one I turned to over and over for its anecdotes, authentic recipes, and charming drawings.
Writer and broadcaster
Still surprises me with Roden's dreamy recollections and delicious and reliable recipes. I return to it again and again.
chef/owner Porsena & Porchetta
After three years living in Beirut as a child this book was my key to recreating those flavors as an adult.
Vast in geographical and historical scope, Roden explores the roots of Western Culture in unexpected ways.
Former food scientist, writer and broadcaster
Claudia is the doyen on Middle Eastern cookery, and this book is an absolute must.
As rich in food culture as the recipes are good.
Food writer and illustrator
Personal, accurate, never bettered.
Author and consultant
Writer and photographer
Chief Executive, Doves Farm Foods
Food writer and author
Artist, graphic designer and author
A Food Historian Cooks
Professor of American Literature & Culture
Owner and Founder of Pascale’s Kitchen
Author and writer
Chef, writer and broadcaster
Founder of Rococo Chocolates
Cookbook author and food journalist
Author and food scholar