A uniquely South African feast

2010-12-30 12:09

She is the grand dame of Darling, the doyen of Mzansi theatre and “the most famous white woman in South Africa”, according to her biography.

Now Evita Bezuidenhout can add award-winning food ­author to her extensive resume.

The tannie with the steel grey coiffure rounded off a busy and successful 2010 by scooping the South African prize of the Gourmand World Cookbooks Awards 2010 in the category Best Easy Recipes Book for her recipe book, Kossie Sikelela.

The cookbook, which has sold more than 40 000 copies since its initial release in March, now stands a chance of winning the grand prize at the Paris Cookbook Fair in March 2011.

So what did the gastronomes like so much about this particular book?

It’s heavyweight. Not only was it compiled by a celebrity force of nature, but the foreword was written by none other than veteran screen siren Sophia Loren – and that’s no joke!

The two met in 1992 in Hollywood.

They obviously hit it off and Loren was only too glad to introduce the book when Evita told her she “passionately believes that reconciliation can happen around the dinner table”.

And there are over 200 dishes and recipes in the book to keep politicians and the like too busy stuffing their faces to have time for fisticuffs and name-calling.

The food is as diverse as our Rainbow Nation – from green bean bredie, cumin chicken with sweet potatoes, pampoenkoekies, walnut balls and baked apple clowns to orange trifle, vetkoek, raspberry coulis, brandewynkoek and boeremeisies preserve.

There are recipes for diabetics and vegetarians, kosher and halaal dishes and health foods to keep you in the great shape that tannie is in.

One of the fascinating aspects of this book is that it literally feels like an art project.

Some of the chapters are accompanied by a framed artwork of Evita depicting famous paintings such as The Girl with the Pearl Earring, Mona Lisa and Frida Kahlo.

There are a lot of Tannie ­Evita’s pictures (as expected) but curiously none of food. Instead, artist Linda Vicquery illustrates the ingredients in a fun and ­irreverent way – almost child-like in its sense of fun.

The recipes are not difficult and are proudly South African.

The braai chapter is fantastic, with dishes such as curried frikkadels, pork kebabs, roosterkoek and putupap squares. Add the pomegranate and aubergine and chickpea salads, and your braai will be the talk of the neighbourhood all summer.

In keeping with her outspoken wit, Tannie Evita has added a chapter called Bad Taste which features dishes such as Yengeni’s Swiss chard with 4X4 gravy, Schabir’s gold coin fricassee and Winnie’s Stompie ragout.

Another “darling” thing about the book is that some of the proceeds will go to Tannie’s NGO, the Darling Trust, which focuses on arts and culture, health, education and community needs.

Oh, and if you really adore ­Tannie Evita, you can unfold the poster of her having dinner with some of her famous family members, and stick it on your wall.
Happy eating! 

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