Spilling the Beans

Food that'll make you feel good

04 October 2017 - 13:43
The recipes in 'Mnandi - A Taste of Mphophomeni' focus on local, seasonal produce.
The recipes in 'Mnandi - A Taste of Mphophomeni' focus on local, seasonal produce.
Image: Supplied

Goodness. When it comes to food, there's not much of it left. In between the most ghastly sort of animal farming, bland processed supermarket mulch and the fact that, despite food technology's apparent advances, so many people don't have any of it at all it's a scary foodscape.

Some say this is a far better world, food-wise, than it was 100 years ago. But that depends on whether you're noshing on Ottolenghi's trendy aubergine patties in London, or watching the ocean's sea-life get sucked up by big trawlers from your tiny family fishing boat.

But there are good things out there.

One such is the recipe book Mnandi - A Taste of Mphophomeni. It is just one of the many fruits of the glorious food-gardening project started by Ntombenhle Mtambo near Mphophomeni township in KwaZulu-Natal. It celebrates the people and the food of the Mphophomeni Conservation group, which has become both an inspiration and lifeline to people in the area.

With recipes collated by Nikki Brighton, writer, activist and long-time supporter of the project, this little book is full and rewarding. The recipes are delicious, personal and an expression of both local and seasonal - buzzwords used everywhere, but hardly ever outside of food-fad gumph.

Try one of three brilliant chakalaka recipes, cook Penz Malinga's creamy carrot soup and learn all about cooking imifino (wild greens). Mphophomeni's gardeners and cooks are, as food anthropologist and writer Anna Trapido says, "an example of what South Africa can and should be".

To check stockists or order online, visit their website. All proceeds go back into the garden project.

If you're in the mood to spread some more goodness, then help to make the 25th anniversary of Kid's Haven in Benoni a great and good-food-filled day for the children, staff and volunteers. This is a remarkable charity which takes care of street children and other children who've slipped through the gaps.

On October 13 they're planning a braai and party day, and are asking for the most modest sort of help. To donate R25 for a party box, or give money to make the braai more wonderful, go to kidshaven.org.za

Goodness and industrial farming aren't often friends, whether you're talking ethics, environment or flavour. Which is why getting your chicken from the new Baba G is a brilliant (and good) thing to do.

The guys who became famous in Jozi for their Tutto food truck now serve what they describe as "Afro-Mediterranean" free-range rotisserie chicken from a small nook in Illovo's Post Office Centre. It is utterly, succulently, perfectly wonderful. Visit babag.co.za