A collection of heart-warming SA flavours

2009-09-25 00:00

I READ once that many people enjoy recipe books as bedtime reading. They never actually try any of the recipes but they read them anyway and what they probably enjoy most of all is looking at the pictures. Thanks to a career that didn’t exist when Mrs Beeton was the standard cookbook in most homes, cookery books these days have gorgeous pictures: food styling.

I don’t think I’ll try reading recipe books at bedtime or I’ll be in the kitchen raiding the fridge in less time than it takes to get from “snacks” to “sweets”.

This book certainly has dazzling images. It is You magazine’s fifth cookery book that includes recipes submitted by readers from all over the country. You can try the rice dumpling recipe of Jolene from Mondeor, a sweet potato dish enjoyed by guests on a game farm in Kimberley and a cheese and vegetable pie made right here in Scottsville by Sue.

The collection has a heart-warming South African flavour including many traditional dishes that reflect the cultural diversity of the nation. Happily, the culinary traditions of the majority have managed to find their way into this collection with recipes for samp and beans and a mealie meal dish, but none for “walkie talkies” or “smileys”. Perhaps that would be too much to expect, but it would certainly signify a major shift in the formerly Eurocentric “foodie” publishing world.

It also contains some “added value” elements like “Budget-beating tips” for alternative, cheaper ingredients and useful information on basics like different types of noodles, herbs, chillies and spices, salad vegetables, cooking times and curry mixes. Speaking of curry, KwaZulu-Natal curries have a section all of their own, which is likely to make it a hit locally.

• You Let’s Cook 5 by Carmen Niehaus is published by Human & Rousseau.

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