Local is … Delicious

Every September, Exclusive Books has a Tasty Reads promo … featuring the most delicious local cookbooks on the shelves.

This year, finding the Local is Lekker moniker somewhat overused, they’ve turned it on it’s head … so we’re talking Local Isn’t Lekker – Local is Delicious … or Zesty, Spicy or Hearty … maybe even Local is Moreishley-Sweet.

Some of the trends the bookstore is seeing, when it comes to cookbooks, is that cooking nowadays is all about conscious eating. Plant-based diets continue to be a hot trend in food (hello Mokgadi Itsweng’s Veggie Licious), as are food choices relating to lifestyle (think Living the Ultimate Keto Lifestyle by Hendrik Marais). One of the most heartwarming trends in local cookbooks is how ordinary people are getting into the kitchen (an exceptional example is Sinoyolo Sifo, who, in Sifo The Cooking Husband, breaks gender stereotyple and challenges who exactly belongs in the kitchen!).

For our top choice in the books on the Tasty Reads list, we unashamedly went directly, and very greedily, to Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen and his memoir of the tables from his childhood and his journey to the Kalahari with Klein Jan Cookbook. Klein Jan started off as a rough sketch on a paper serviette in a small eaterie in Cape Town (the serviette now framed and hanging in Jan’s office), and ended as a elegant, fine dining restaurant in the Kalahari in Boscia House – built almost a century ago and kept, with Jan’s care and thoughfulness, almost as she was, just gently restored. And the cookbook is so much more than just that … it’s page after glorious page of images not just of food, but of family memories and Kalahari scenes … of the restaurant, and of wind pumps and antiquated reservoirs, of kitchens and landscapes, of grasslands and big South African skies, and of all the treasures to be found in the desert earth.

And then, of course, there are Jan’s recipes. There are some that are going to take time, and a little effort, and won’t be to everyone’s taste… Skilpadjies with pickled cabbage and curry tripe, for example. And Pofadder with whipped feta, which includes lamb kidneys and livers and pig casing and is only for those not offal-shy. But then there are dozens and dozens of recipes that you’ll just use over and over … from the Stoep Drinks and Small Bites chapters (Mampoer Cocktail with peach jelly alongside Klein Spek Souttertjies before your next braai), to the preserved peaches and salted lemons and Tsama Melon Konfyt, proper roasted pumpkin soup and the quintessential South African bread Mosbolletjies. There are glorious dinner party mains (the stunning kudu fillet stuffed with venison sausage and red wine), and more casual braai options (jaffles with biltong and cheese … such a hit!).

Sides are followed by sauces and stocks and savoury butters, then puds and desserts and bakes – milk tart and rooibos crème caramel and buttermilk rusks. And the most wonderful of them all … boerejongens (raisins preserved in a brandy syrup) with condensed milk ice-cream. “You are never given a dream if you can’t make it come true,” says Jan on the cover. And here are all your foodie dreams come true in one glorious book. Tswalu, Exclusive Books, R490.

Our next Tasty Reads buy was Cooking With Love – also filled with treasured recipes from Trish van der Nest’s family and friends. The recipes, says Trish, represent her personal cooking style … “easy and simple, using few ingredients. They are the kind of dishes you’ll make over and over, because they work.” So you’ll find recipes like roasted tomato and yoghurt salad, and a sublime fennel, pea and mint salad that we’ll make on repeat this Summer, a lovely prawn and pasta bake, and dinner party chicken with olives, dates and caper berries. Our highlight … the chocolate-hazelnut condesnsed milk ice cream (do you notice a theme going on here) which, like Jan’s, doesn’t need an ice-cream machine. Again, like Klein Jan Cookbook, there are notes and anecotes about family and friends, which makes for such a personal cook book. Penguin, Exclusive Books, R328   

These are just a few of the titles on the Tasty Reads list … there’s also the wonderful Die Demokratiese Republiek van Braai 2 by Jan Braai, Chef Mbombi’s An African Bite, SABC 3’s Zanele van Zyl’s Cooking with Zanele and so many more. Local really is Delicious.


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