Personal Essays · The Curious Cook

In remembrance of lost tastes

Name just one other thing in this world that is as evocative as food. I tend to voraciously devour almost any book I can find and spend far too many hours watching films; but nothing, absolutely nothing is as immediate, all-encompassing and deeply fundamental as the memories that can be unlocked in just one bite.

The wonderful American writer, director and die-hard foodie Nora Ephron had a special way of writing about food in the context of a rich, full, complex life. In her famous bittersweet collection of essays I Feel Bad about My Neck (2006) she included an op-ed piece she wrote for the New York Times about the regret of not eating more of a particular food that ended up vanishing out of her life. In “The Lost Strudel or Strudel le Perdu” she elaborates thus:

“Food vanishes. I don’t mean food as love, food as habit, food as memory, food as biography, food as metaphor, food as regret, or food as in those famous madeleines people like me are constantly referring to as if they’ve read Proust, which in most cases they haven’t. I mean food as food. Food vanishes.”

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Personal Essays

Wearing my heart on my sleeve – my life (so far) through what I wore

Like all magical stories, it all started with a treasure chest. When I was very small, 5 or 6 I think, my father made a little wooden chest for me carved out with my initials ‘AKO’ highlighted in black lacquer on the lid. I kept it at the foot of my little pink wooden bed, stuffed full of bits and bobs for playing dressing-up. A special favourite was this silver tulle dress which transformed me into an enchantress. Here is a photo of me posing around in it while my friends Kathy and Reinette wait for me to get on with it!

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The Curious Cook

13 nageregete vir ‘n oorvoloedige Kersmaal

Kersfees gaan vir vele net oor drie dinge: familie, tradisie en kos. Kosskrywer ANNA-KARIEN OTTO gaan steek kers op by ’n Provensaalse Kersnageregtradisie, en dek die tafel vir ’n Suid-Afrikaanse fees van oorvloed en voorspoed met ’n buitengewone Kerskoek met rum en garam masala as die hoogtepunt.

(VRYE WEEKBLAD Desember 2019)

‘n Suid Afrikaanse fees van 13 lekkernye. Foto: Justus Wagener
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Journalism · The Curious Cook

My top foodie finds of the Winelands

Franschhoek and Stellenbosch may be the king and queen of dining destinations but the bustling town of Paarl and its quieter cousin Wellington have many culinary surprises hidden up their proverbial sleeves. Local food writer Anna-Karien Otto has put together her pick of favourite foodie items to be found only in these beautiful jewels of the Boland.

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Personal Essays · The Curious Cook

A movable feast

 

In January this year we went on a road trip, crossing the Western Cape through the Karoo to the hinterland of the Eastern Cape. After fulfilling the usual family obligations, we headed for our favourite destination – Graaff-Reinet.

It is here that we feel most at home, relishing in the absolute peace of the Karoo. The weather always seems to be perfect at any time of the year, with the loveliest long, drawn-out magical evenings. The sun takes its time to set, dipping below the mountain, painting the clouds gold or pink before giving way to a long deep cobalt blue twilight that seems to last forever. And in Spring the swallows and swifts arrive, gliding and dipping above the spires of the glorious cypress trees in the gathering dusk.

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Journalism · The Curious Cook

Tapping into the tastes of Africa

 

Ice cream5

Imagine an ice cream that represents the many and varied flavours of Africa. Made with no preservatives or additives, only home grown ingredients. This is what Tapi Tapi desserts are all about, but the concept behind it is not only ground breaking, it could very well become a way to shift our cultural and social perceptions.

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The Curious Cook

The perfection of the pumpkin family

What is the dish that you associate with your earliest food memory? I love to think of what children long for, drinking cocoa by the fire after school like in an Enid Blyton story. In the classic Robert Louis Stevenson poem Young Night Thought a boy dreams of a procession of exotic characters marching past his mind’s eye as he falls asleep. My procession of nursery favourites would include dhal with spinach paneer from India, plum jam dumplings for the Austrian/Swiss Germans, pasta with pancetta and peas for those Italian bambini, vetkoek with mince or mieliepap with tomato onion sauce for us South Africans and roast chicken for almost everybody.

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In my battered 1960s copy of “A Child’s Garden of Verses” beautifully illustrated by Hilda Boswell, all kinds of dreamy things happen such as this vision above and a girl falling asleep in a boat that rocks her to sleep. Photo: Anna-Karien Otto

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