01 November 2011 by Robyn Campbell

Awesome South African recipe blog

My favourite thing about South Africa becoming a democracy is how it’s opened up our understanding and appreciation of each other’s cuisines. Given the country’s apartheid history, that may sound like a shallow statement, but isn’t food the ultimate form of expression when words and deeds are not enough?

We’ve all eaten a meal where the food and recipes are much more than the sum of ingredients. It’s the reason we remember our mother’s cooking, and the “I’m sorry” box of chocolates; it’s the feasts that bring us together at Christmas or Eid, and the glue that holds us together at funerals and goodbyes.

Which is why I highly recommend (when you’ve finished reading this blog, of course) that you log on to Mzansi Style Cuisine, a blog I stumbled onto by accident, but that is now my go-to online recipe book when I need more than words.

The talented lady behind this journey into modern South African cuisine is Thuli, and since I don’t intend to steal her thunder, you can read more about her on her blog site.

Despite our democratic transition, for the most part, how South African food is perceived remains a page in a near-medieval manuscript, Okay, I am exaggerating, but most cook books reference our culinary heritage only in terms of Cape Malay and Cape Dutch food.  Seminal cook books, like Dora Sitole’s, Cooking from Cape to Cairo, and Anna Trapido and Coco Coco Fathi-Reinarz’s From the Banqueting House, are two exceptions.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Cape Malay and boerekos. However, Thuli’s blog taps into the food that hundreds of thousands of South Africans cook and eat every day.

Like Amagwinya/vetkoek, a deep-fried yeast bread snack, a little bit like a doughnut (but without the hole), sold on street corners across the country. As Thuli says, “Trust me when I tell you Amagwinya/vetkoek is a kasi (township) favourite for the young and the old, the drunk and the sober, the working and the unemployed…” Just a warning, Amagwinya are addictive, so be sure to make a big batch and watch them disappear.

What I love about Mzansi Style Cuisine is the recipes are for everyday. Quick and easy Umxhaxha / Pumpkin and Mealie dish for when you need to jazz up a midweek dinner, dumplings and lamb stew to show your love for family and friends, and Umngqusho onemboyti (samp and beans) when it’s just you, a glass of wine, and the TV.

If you’ve ever asked the question ‘What is South African food?’ leave the culinary ponderings to the food critics and academics, and check out Thuli’s blog. Even if you’re not South African, I guarantee you’ll find recipes you and your family will love and that you’ll make again and again. So in a word, how would I describe Thuli’s take on modern South African food? YUMzansi!


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