I am feeling pleased a punch. The cook book I have been working on for absolute ages as a fundraiser for the Mpophomeni Conservation Group has finally been published. My design diva pal, Des, put it together just the way I dreamed it and I think it looks delicious.
My friends in Mpophomeni are the inspiration. How could I resist not sharing their stories and recipes when they say interesting things like this?
- Hope Majozi (I call him my second favourite vegetarian in the world): “People are unaware. They do not realise the cruelty of meat production.”
- Ntombenhle Mtambo: “Teaching young people to grow food and medicine and become more self- sufficient is the most important thing we can do – but it must be fun.”
- Penz Malinga: “With animal agriculture now the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, we all have change our lifestyles, and eating more vegetables is a great start.”
- Lindiwe Mkhize: “I worry about the kids – they need fresh nutritious food and plenty of water, not white bread and horrible juice filled with colourants.”
- Tutu Zuma: “My food forest and medicinal plant garden keeps me strong and healthy. I have never been hungry – I eat green food throughout winter.”
- France Mtshali: “If you want to live a long life work hard, eat fresh, local food and lots of greens.”
- Sthembile Mbanjwa: “It feels nice to pick your own food that you have grown with your hands and to save seeds for the next season.”
- Mary Mlambo: “Many young people don’t understand how important growing good food is. They want to be pilots and doctors, but you can’t get food from a plane or hospital.”
I feel very fortunate to have been able to combine all the things I care about – eating plants rather than animals, using renewable sources of energy, living local, growing your own, foraging for wild greens, building community, brilliant colour – in this book. Lucky, lucky me!
So this is a tiny taste of what it is all about.
Seasonal cooking is never a chore. It is a joy. It is a celebration of colour and flavour, of the time of the year, of the love lavished by the gardener and cook.
In Mpophomeni township in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands, joy is a fundamental part of living. Here food is grown from the heart, meals are meant to be shared and stories are told with pride. In this book of fresh garden food, the people with their hands in the soil and their creative customers share their delight in seasonal produce.
Savour Sthembile’s handmade lasagne with just picked spinach, try Tutu’s sun-cooked rhubarb stew and make Ntombenhle’s famous vetkoek or her favourite crunchy fennel and orange salad. Customers at the Mpophomeni Community Garden, Caroline Bruce, Oaklands County Manor, shares her recipe for Sauerkraut while Kate Chanthunya of Rondavel Soap shows us how to make a salad dressing using maas. The imifino (wild greens) section will encourage you to take a whole new look at the abundant greenery in your veggie beds and help you identify common edibles in your neighbourhood.
Anna Trapido, author of Hunger for Freedom – the story of food in the life of Nelson Mandela, wrote the ‘shout’ for the back cover: “We are what we grow, cook and eat. Mpophomeni’s gardeners and cooks are an example of what South Africa can and should be. Through the pages of this delightful book readers will come to love and admire a remarkable and resilient community. The recipes so generously offered are not only delicious but also inspiring and insightful – each one allows a reader to taste a piece of the story.”
I hope that Mnandi (which translates as ‘tasty’) will inspire you to take part in the magical process of growing and preparing food that is good for you and good for the planet too. Available at bookstores and deli’s across the country or from firstname.lastname@example.org
Publication is sponsored by N3 Toll Concession who have always loved the food we serve them when they visit. Thank you Andy Visser for the spark, and Thandi Rakhale and Con Roux for your continual enthusiastic support. Thanks to my tribe of creative friends (who are not Mpoppies) who contributed recipes, ideas, time and advice – Sue Derwent, Erica Platter, Kate Chanthunya, Eidin Griffin, Sam Rose, Bridget Ringdahl, Karen Zunckel, Kim Ward, Lesle Hall, Caroline Bruce, Cheryl Blackburn, Liz Gow, Alison McKenna and Paul Van Uytrecht.
All money from sales will go to MCG projects. To support cooks, growers and small farmers in the area through training, networking, resources and wilderness experiences. For three years sales of Mnandi provided free WiFi to the community in the vicinity of the Library.