Psstt- If you’re an @ Perdeby reader looking for recipes on the site, see the Recipes tab on your left for the photos I put up for you!
This is the story of Yum-mo.
I’m not quite sure where it started. You could say it began on the day when Human and Rousseau posted me a contract that I signed, and posted back. Or maybe it started when Tobie Wiese (a published author himself who was involved with Human and Rousseau) overheard me talking about my idea for a book at my aunt’s birthday picnic in Stellenbosch.
Or even the day before that, when I heard I could go to the party because my private-cheffing guests liked the yellowtail I cooked for dinner so much that they wanted the leftovers again for lunch the next day.
Or maybe it began the year before when someone (I don’t know who) said: “you should write a cookbook”. And the idea stuck in one of my brain-folds and planted itself and grew bit by bit until I had a vague plan (just no publisher).
Or maybe it was when I moved into digs (a student house) in my second year at Rhodes University, Grahamstown. And started to teach my friends how to chop onions and make white sauce and roast chickens. We loved to eat proper meals every night, we loved to cook; and I loved being part of that.
Maybe it began before then, when I went to Silwood Kitchens in Cape Town after school to become a chef. And then there was the choice to go to University after my three years of training and working in kitchens to study journalism, which really helped me understand the issues around student cooking.
Either way, it began. The year was 2012 and I had a book to write.
I was living in the most gorgeous house (Jasmin Cottage) in Grahamstown with four of my best friends. Eager recipe-testers and food-tasters, they watched and sampled many flops and trials (I had some bad ideas to begin with, I can tell you). After I had a basic idea about what I wanted to do, the word started to get around about this book contract, this Yum-mo thing.
And luckily it got around to photojournalism lecturer Harold Gess and design lecturer Brian Garman. Harold offered to help some of his photojournalism IV students be the photographers. This was wonderful, because a.) I could not afford professional photographers, and b.) It made the book a student project from the outset. They were this totally wonderful team of people, Andrew Brukman, Chris de Beer and Sara Garrun, who pitched up week after week to shoot and tweak and dance around our very limited studio area (basically, the entrance to our yard) while I tried my hand at food styling (something completely new).
I took a good break in the middle of the year when I went home to my parents in Ladysmith where I cooked every day for a month and made sure I had all the recipes just right. I got back to Grahamstown and we started shooting again (we kept getting better, we think), and soon ran out of models. So I would ring up friends or make Facebook statuses asking for people to come and eat. And they came. We had picnics, lunches, dinners. And when we got tired of my house, we cooked all over town, teaching people recipes, eating in friends’ gardens, kitchens, stoeps.
The end result sometimes feels as much like a diary of a year’s social food events as it does a cookbook. It was great fun, fun that was made possible by the love and support of my digsmates (Tara, Robyn, Abi and Nena) who continued to wash dishes, smile for the camera, and encourage me when my BA degree and cookbook project started to take their toll on my stress levels.
Then it was design-time, and I had the great luck of having the Design IV class work on my book as their semester project. They are all immensely talented and it was a tough pick, but Stephanie Pretorius’s fun and catchy logo and design stole my heart and won the prize. Lucky for us, Brian agreed to edit and apply the design for the final book.
Then it was editing and translating time. My Aunt, Hanna Boeke, is a language queen and she generously looked over every line I wrote. I am Afrikaans (dit is my huistaal, my hart-taal) but I can speak it much better than I can write it. Ek het probeer om te vertaal maar dit was ’n gemors, om eerlik te wees. My Ma, en vriendinne Maricelle Gouws en Mia van der Merwe het probeer help, maar dit was op die ou end my Tannie Hanna wat alles vertaal het. Verskriklik dankie! (Basically, my aunt Hanna saved the Afrikaans version from language obliteration).
And then I sent it away, wrote my final year exams and went on a wonderful holiday with my housemates. I moved to Cape Town the year after that, and am currently doing my Master’s by Research in Social Anthropology. I’m interested, quite broadly, in peoples’ relationships with and around food, how those relationships impact their health and lives in general, and what factors influence those relationships. But that’s another book for another day. For now I’m just happily living with my sister and our friend Miriam in an apartment under Table Mountain, trying to make magic in a cupboard-sized kitchen. It is pretty fabulous.
And thats the story. I hope you enjoy cooking with me.
Oh, and here are some more photos and things that should give you an idea about the book itself:
Yum-mo is the product of real experiences with student life in South Africa. It narrates, in recipes and photographs, the stories of young people braving the kitchen to find amusement, nourishment, and reward there.Inspired by my housemates’ efforts to learn how to cook easy, affordable meals, I decided to combine my student experiences and professional cooking skills to produce this book for beginners. I wanted to take the intimidating aspect out of cooking and help people feel comfortable and confident enough to make scrumptious yum-mo meals.
It’s elbows deep in soapy water, washing pots and pans together. It’s baking biscuits in teams, having picnics outside or on the stoep, and learning how to save a flop. It’s considerate of empty pockets and doesn’t alienate the non-foodie, the busy bee or those who aren’t too keen on washing dishes.
Thorough sections on basic methods, essential ingredients and equipment, detailed recipes, and colour photographs entice amateurs to get a handle on cooking. Recipes range from budget meals to more advanced recipes for special occasions.