"The book is to show us who we are and what South Africa is about" - Hope Malau, launch of Johanne 14
On Thursday the 18th of May, Quivertree Publications hosted several guests at the Lunch Launch of Hope Maulu’s Johanne 14. Guests were wined and dined while embarking on a culinary journey through the townships of South Africa. Linda Mali of Edgars Club Magazine facilitated the conversation on the book that she described as being, “more than just a collection of recipes.”
The rich aromas of African cuisine filled the air at Quivertree. Guests were abuzz and pleasantly greeted with an option to taste home-made Ginger beer, Mageu, or both. The smells and tastes were reminiscent of hearty family Sunday lunches.
Malau, who grew up in Jouberton, Kleksdorp, explained that the book brings about an understanding of how the township works. The title, Johanne 14, came about because he loves the scripture John 14, “you should not let your hearts be troubled if you have cabbage in the home,” he chuckles. The award winning chef goes on to explain that cabbage is a staple in the township because “it only costs R5 a head,” and is so versatile, supposedly taking away the troubles of everyday cooking, he has come to call it Johanne 14.
From a young age, the food writer was exposed to different tastes and styles of cooking. He spent a lot of time in a mine kitchen where his father worked and took a liking to the chef. Living in a diverse mining community, Malau experienced foods from all over South Africa. He fondly remembers his mother and grandmother going to cook at community functions, “Where are you going, Mama?” he would ask, “I’m going to peel [vegetables],” and he wouldn’t see her for the rest of the day. “Whether you knew the family or not, you had to help,” he recalls.
Out of over 60 recipes that the book showcases, Malau says his favourite is the tripe because, as his wife describes it, “It goes down.” He goes on to say that while he included mostly simple recipes, there are a few that are “bonding experiences with multidimensional flavours” such as the cow trotters. “I did not want the book to be too finicky” Malau explains, “The book is for everyone. To show us who we are and what SA is about. It’s about making a lot from a little [and] taking that little bit of money that you have and making it taste magical.” This is evidenced is the use of unconventional ingredients such as Cremora coffee creamer in samp, to mention a few.
Quivertree ended off the launch with a taste journey through the pages of Johanne 14 and the streets of South African townships that had many of the guests sharing their own experiences with food and life in South Africa and Africa as a whole. Malau says the book is a celebration of who he is. – Kasuba Stuurman, @kasuba_sun
- Johanne 14: Real South African Food by Hope Malau
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