Food: Cooking under Karoo stars

2014-10-15 10:00

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Cooked in the Karoo

Justin Bonello

Written by Helena Lombard


R299 at

240 pages

So everyone knows Justin Bonello as the guy who has that mad braai programme on television.

In this book, which turns out to be quite a pleasant surprise, we also get to know him as tour guide, nature lover and sometimes car mechanic.

I own too many cookbooks and it took me a while to get stuck into this one, but it has been such fun.

Helena Lombard has done a great job writing in Justin’s voice and he tells a great story about one of the loveliest and loneliest places in our country.

To most of us, the Karoo is that endless stretch you drive through on the way from Joburg to Cape Town, stopping only at Colesberg to fill up the petrol tank and get a quick Wimpy meal.

But this book is an ode, a love song and a road map to some pretty out-of-the-way places in that vast prehistoric part of South Africa.

He gives us a handy survival guide (take toilet paper and wet wipes on this adventure), tips on how to deal with the locals, beautiful descriptions of the many mountain passes and, of course, some seriously cool recipes.

I have made several versions of his frikkadel recipe, his rocket and lemon pesto and the milktart, but for pure indulgence, you have to make the burnt sugar sweets and the biltong carpaccio. Yum.

I like chefs who understand the origins of food, and who source local foodstuff and present them in new and innovative ways. I also like chefs who are respectful of others’ skills and happily incorporate them.

Think what you want of Justin Bonello, but do get stuck into this book. You will learn so much about the Karoo and a style of cooking we don’t see every day.

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