My love for food and cooking started as early as I can remember. My mother, Colleen, is a prolific cook and our home life was centred around the kitchen and great family meals.
We sat as a family around the table for a cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, almost all of which were prepared by my mother. Meal times were a time for the family to interact and considered a sacred space by all of us. Our family’s meals were well know and attended by all our friends and extended family. The family of plus minus five people would often be extended to ten to fifteen people on any given day.
My mother loves reading about amongst many other topics, food, history and culture and this has brought all kinds of wonderful dishes to our table. She is always way ahead of any food trends as she doesn’t follow trends but explores cultures and history.
As children we were gathering pine nuts from the pine forests around Stellenbosch for pesto’s and hunting mushrooms. My brother was diving crayfish and abalone. We experimented with making our own cheeses and olives. We spent weeks exploring jam making techniques and the best milk tart recipe, made fresh pasta and sushi, poured over recipe books and food magazines.
Quite early in my life, about 10 – 13 years old, my mother became concerned with the ethics around food and investigated a vegetarian life style for herself and eventually us kids. I can’t remember this being a major issue but then again she cooks so amazingly well, few people even notice that they are in a vegetarian household when they first start visiting.
This has opened up the world of meat free cooking for me, which is such a mental block for so many people. Luckily my mother was never a militant veggie and I was still exposed to meat and it’s cooking methods even though mainly intellectually.