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CC Louis Leipoldt’s abiding passion was food and wine. Few other socio-historical records of the South African larder and table demonstrate the breadth, wit and boundless culinary curiosity of Leipoldt’s appetite.
C Louis Leipoldt is a complex and fascinating figure in South Africa’s culinary history. A brilliant scholar with a relentless mind, Christian Frederick Louis Leipoldt was a journalist, botanist, doctor, chef, author, poet, playwright and noted gourmand.
Born in 1880, of Rhenish missionary descent, Leipoldt’s first culinary education came about as a result of his austere and fractious mother who insisted her sons be home-schooled. He received an eclectic education and grew up speaking English, Dutch and German and reading Latin and Greek.
Being forced to spend time at home – in the company of the family cook, Maria – proved a formative time for the culinary figure Leipoldt. She taught him the art of creating tasty, slow-cooked food and revealed the medicinal properties of herbs to him.
Leipoldt’s love affair with food and wine continued throughout his life, and he produced several gastronomic volumes. Among his best-known food and wine publications is Kos vir die Kenner (Food for the Connoisseur) and Leipoldt’s Cape Cookery. Three Hundred Years of Cape Wine covers the history of wine at the Cape up to Leipoldt’s time, while Polfyntjies vir die Proe (Token for the Tastebuds) is a collection of light-hearted essays covering all aspects of food.
The scope of Leipoldt’s food and wine books, like their author, is deliciously bold. His works are filled with exotic indigenous dishes, from supreme of flamingo to tortoise bredie (stew). Leipoldt’s prose and recipes will titillate your culinary imagination.
If you are in the Cederberg area, about 17km north of Clanwilliam, you will find Leipoldt's grave in a small cave which still has traces of rock art. The grave is signposted from the Pakhuis Pass.