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The contribution of magazines to South Africa’s food culture

Magazines contribute immensely to the development of a nation's distinctive cuisine.

In South Africa several magazines, both English and Afrikaans, have contributed to making us aware of our unique food culture. The food editors and food journalists involved are owed a debt of gratitude for their effort over the years in helping to create and pin down our cuisine.

Of the magazines concerned, the popular Afrikaans magazines that come to mind are the family magazine Huisgenoot, the farming magazine Landbouweekblad, and the women's magazines Sarie, Rooi Rose, Tuis, Femina and Vrouekeur. There are some excellent English magazines as well, but from our point of view as Afrikaans readers, we are able to comment only on the influence of the Afrikaans magazines.

In other countries television had a greater impact on the establishment of a food culture. For example, in the USA Julia Child's television programme, "The French chef", premiered in 1963. In New Zealand the much-loved Allison Holst produced her first national cooking programme on television in 1965. Today there is a wide variety of TV cooking shows and food channels.

In South Africa, however, magazines and newspapers influenced opinions on food for a much longer period, as the country only entered the Televison Age in 1975. The first food programmes started a few years later. According to our research, Annette Human presented her first television cooking show "TV tuiskombuis" in about 1990 on SABC television. Since then there have been a number of good Afrikaans television cooking shows; examples are "Pampoen tot perlemoen" and "Pasella".

But to return to the popular Afrikaans magazines and their contribution to cooking and food preparation, let us have a look at the ones mentioned above. The best one to start with is the Huisgenoot, since this magazine arguably had the greatest influence:

Huisgenoot

Huisgenoot is a well-known and much-loved family-oriented magazine with a long history. Already in 1942, and continuing until 1947, C Louis Leipold wrote a series of columns in Die Huisgenoot (as it was then) on food. These were subsequently published as "Polfyntjies vir die proe", and later translated into English under the title "Culinary treasures".

Marietjie's favourite food writer of all times, however, is Annette Human who was the Huisgenoot's food editor for many years. Between 1981 and 1987 she penned three volumes of the best-selling "Huisgenoot wenresepte" (translated into English as "Winning recipes"). At the end of 1987 she received an honorory Cordon Bleu award for her contribution to South African food culture.

Annette received family recipes from all over South Africa, tested them, adapted them if necessary, and shared them with her readers. If the recipe you sent in became a "wenresep", it was quite an achievement. Marietjie fondly remembers her mother and friends savouring a "wenresep" dish or cake; they would delight in every crumb and ask the creator which particular Wenresepte volume was the source. Annette's tenure at the Huisgenoot ended when she married the love of her life, a farmer from the Soutpansberg area; she left Cape Town and the Huisgenoot test kitchen to become a farmer.

After her marriage, Annette nevertheless continued writing books on cooking. Although many are out of print, there are two still available. One is "Die nuwe, beter kortpadkos". This book is filled with numerous ideas for quick delicious meals and tea-time treats. There are recipes for breakfast, bread, scones, soup, vegetables, salads, meat and fish dishes, desserts, cakes, biscuits, snacks, and many more. All are tried-and-tested easy-to-follow recipes, and each is limited to no more than six ingredients. The second book is "Lekker vir later". This is a lovely book describing the different methods of preservation of fresh produce in order to have food available in leaner times. The fruits and vegetables are listed alphabetically to make them easier to find.

Carmen Niehaus succeeded Annette as the head of the Huisgenoot test kitchen. (By this time the English version of Huisgenoot, called You, was also being published.) Some excellent cookbooks have come from her pen. Some of her books are available in both Afrikaans and English. One noteworthy example is "Die beste van Huisgenoot wenrespte", published in English as "The best of You winning recipes". As the title implies, the book comprises the best recipes from the "Huisgenoot wenrespte", which now total no fewer than seven volumes. As always, of course, every single recipe has been validated in the Huisgenoot test kitchen.

Recently (in 2010) Carmen also published "Huisgenoot bakboek", or "Let's bake" in the English translation. This book is a practical, user-friendly and beautifully illustrated baking book, with a comprehensive collection of over 200 recipes for baking and over 30 for icings and fillings, ranging from the traditional to the new and innovative.

Sarie

From 1975 until 1992 Peter Veldsman was the food editor of the Sarie Marais magazine, or simply Sarie as it was later renamed. During his tenure he compiled an extensive series of articles on the cuisine of various regions of South Africa. Under his editorship, Sarie included photographs of the different stages involved in the making of a dish. In this way he taught his readers much about cooking; Sarie provided readers what amounted to a correspondence course in cooking. Peter wrote a number of excellent cookbooks but sadly they are all out of print.

Peter become a full-time restaurateur at Emily's in Cape Town and was succeeded by Barbara Joubert. Two of Barbara Joubert's books are available in Afrikaans. The first is "Sarie 5", which has recipes for modern food limited to just five ingredients each. The other book is "Proe die lekker: kosinspirasie uit Sarie", which has traditional receipes as well as quick recipes for those busy days.

Rooi Rose

Mariette Crafford writes articles on food for the Rooi Rose magazine. Mariette was born and bred in the North-West Cape. Her home town is Kakamas, which also happens to be the home town of Marietjie's mother. The comfort food that Mariette writes about could be straight from Marietjie's grandmother's kitchen. Mariette's book "Sonskynkafee" is highly recommended; the photographs, stories and recipes in the book are all very special.

Tuis

Sonja Jordt is the food editor of the magazine Tuis. She recently published a timely book: "Kos uit die tuin". It is a gardening book with tips on how to grow your own fruit and vegetables in South Africa. It includes 100 easy recipes that have fruit or vegetables as the main ingredient.

 

Vrouekeur

Many of Marietjie's friends in South Africa love the Vrouekeur recipe books written by Marlo Carstens and published by Lapa Uitgewers. Kalahari.net sells "Vinnig en maklik: resepte uit Vrouekeur 2". Ever since the inception of the Vrouekeur magazine in 1999 their recipes have proved very popular. The success of the recipes lies in their simplicity, and in the fact that most of the ingredients will be readily available in the average pantry. Recently Marlo published a book called "Veels geluk liewe maatjie", which is all about making children's birthday parties unforgettable. Judging from reports from friends, it sounds like a must-have for mothers with small children.

Femina

Ina Paarman, who used to be the food editor of the magazine Femina, markets food products under her name. She has also written a number of cookbooks. "Cook with Ina Paarman" is one that is still available at Kalahari.net.

Landbouweekblad

The Landbouweekblad also includes recipes and, like the Huisgenoot, these are all tested in their test kitchen. They are the work of Arina du Plessis. Arina has now written "Plaaskos -- winter en somer", which comprises over 200 of the best recipes that have appeared in the magazine during the past four years. The book has two parts: cool summer dishes and hearty winter dishes.

 

In recent years, food television and South African food websites became popular and are now making a significant contribution to the on-going development and publishing of South Africa’s food culture, but magazines continue to encourage and enhance the South African food tradition.