Bertus Basson Homegrown

Such fun to be able to tell you about two ‘local’ books today.  One from a restaurant, which to my obvious shame, I had not heard of Sababa and one from one of my all-time favourite people, Bertus Basson.

Bertus with his pet pig when he was a Speklet

For me the only person I have known who has reared a pig from the Babe stage to a huge porker, a beautiful spotted character called Spek. Bertus who has worked in restaurants in London and currently runs a raft of excellent restaurants, each totally different form the other, is a real mensch.  We have known him from before he married Marelie to their current family, a dog called Patat, one called Snoek, a pig called Spek and a dog called Bone. Soon to be followed by a human child of their own.  Spek en Bone have a restaurant named for them in Stellenbosch of which I have heard only the most fabulous reviews.

Bertus at work

Homegrown is the sort of cook book you always wanted but could never find. Cleverly divided into chapters called Childhood, My Hood [he and Marelie and the entourage live in Jamestown outside Stellenbosch], Ingredients and Home, it is obvious what you are in for, the whole gamut from boyhood and the heritage nostalgia food, through the people who live and work around them, suppliers for his businesses, the people he meets along the way. The Gatsby story alone is well worth a read.  Ingredients – well.  All the magical stuff he uses, all the equally magical people who grow it.  Home. That’s what they do at home, what they cook and how they eat.

To know him is to love him and you can’t do without this book.

Published by Russel Wasserfall Food with Jacana Media.

Sababa, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Food

As I said in the intro, my shame is not having been here. But in typical Cape Town defence, I will say it is on the other side of the mountain. Table Mountain that is. Almost a foreign country for us country folk in the rural southern suburbs.

I love love love this type of food. I once spent a week in the Gulf Hotel in Manama, Bahrain.  This was the food I ate for breakfast lunch and supper each day.  Hummus that had been pulled through a silk scarf, the fattest of olives, fatoush, aubergines, masses of herbs and garlic.

Russell Smith’s beautiful photography makes the food sing, you want to reach in and touch it, pull your finger through it and taste it.

Sababa’s Tal & Russell Smith – a picture from the book

Lyn Smith’s food comes from the heart.  Sublime food like this comes from only that place.  She has a brilliant team of ladies, photographed in the book.  Chapters run through the courses of a menu from Mezze to Sweets and Cakes and you will want to make each one of them. The layout is stunning with the recipes facing the photographs, easy to prepare for the home cook.

I am thrilled to have this book, it is a joy, and will have to cook from it [frequently] until such time as I make it round the mountain, passport and visa in hand to eat at Sababa.

Both book published by Jacana Media, www.jacana.co.za

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