Claudia Roden was born and brought up in Cairo. She finished her education in Paris and later studied art in London. Starting as a painter she was drawn to the subject of food partly through a desire to evoke a lost heritage - one of the pleasures of a happy life in Egypt. The local delight in food, like the light, colour and smells and the special brand of hospitality, warmth and humour, has left a permanent impression.
With her bestselling classic, A Book of Middle Eastern Food (Penguin 1970, revised edition A New Book of Middle Eastern Food, 1985), first published in 1968, Claudia Roden revolutionised Western attitudes to the cuisines of the Middle East. Her intensely personal approach and her passionate appreciation of the dishes delighted readers, while she introduced them to a new world of foods, both exotic and wholesome. The book received great critical acclaim, and the publication of the enlarged edition was enthusiastically welcomed.
Mrs Roden has continued to write about food with a special interest in the social and historical background of cooking. In 1981 Penguin reissued Coffee, which was followed in 1982 by Picnic. Then came the BBC television series, Mediterranean Cookery with Claudia Roden, and the accompanying book, Claudia Roden's Mediterranean Cookery, a new, expanded edition of which was recently published. This was followed by The Food of Italy and then The Book of Jewish Food. In 1992, Claudia Roden won the Glenfiddich Trophy, the top prize of the Glenfiddich Awards.
The Book of Jewish Food was awarded the 1998 Jewish Quarterly/Wingate Book Prize for Non-Fiction, was the 1998 Glenfiddich Food Book of the Year and the 1997 André Simon Memorial Fund Food Book. Her latest book is the award-winning Arabesque: Sumptuous Food from Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon.