Out of an African Kitchen by Nicky Fitzgerald, An Angama Mara Cookbook – a review by Myrna Robins…

Out of an African Kitchen by Nicky Fitzgerald & her daughter, Kate Boyd

I was thrilled to get a copy of this wonderful book. Having known and loved Nicky for a long time, she is my son’s godmother. I have followed the story of this book from the early ideas right through to publication. Her daughter, Kate Boyd, Marketing Manager of Angama Mara, shepherded the book through from its birth to publication.

My McGregor friend Myrna Robins has written one of her usual excellent reviews which means I escape the possible emotional links we have with the Fitzgerald Family!

Myrna Robins at the launch of one of her books, signing copies

Here is Myrna’s review

It couldn’t have come at a better time! Wonderful to receive a cookbook for review that is not only physically alluring, but offers a welcome glimpse of life on a luxurious safari lodge, perfectly perched on the edge of the Great Rift valley  overlooking the renowned Maasai Mara game reserve.

Arriving at a time when South Africa, like the rest of the world, is still knee-deep in lockdowns as the pandemic known as Covid19 keeps us from travelling while reducing our ability to make a living, this softback provides welcome relief. As we absorb the difficulties of producing great food in the Kenyan bush, we admire the enthusiasm and skills of an impressive team of chefs, and drool over a fine treasury of recipes.

Nicky & the late Steve Fitzgerald

Opened five years ago by Nicky and Steve Fitzgerald, Angama Mara set out to feed their international guests with fine fare that wasn’t fancy: Using her experience of more than two decades of catering, Nicky decided that culinary focus should be on authenticity… “less fancy imported ingredients, more locally grown .Less drizzles, gels and foams… less ego in the kitchen…”

The Angma Mara Shamba

Vegetables are sourced from the Kenyan highlands, tropical fruits from the coast, freshwater fish from  Lake Victoria, honey delivered in five-litre buckets from local beekeepers. Menus make full use of indigenous Arab-inspired Swahili dishes from the coast and Indian cuisine from the large community that has called Kenya home for generations. A kitchen garden enables guests to pick their own ingredients and toss their own salads for lunch. At the other end of the gastronomic spectrum Angama caters happily for vegan, gluten-free and low sodium recipes, adapts meals to cope with food allergies, makes sure that exotic ingredients – think sumac, za’atar and almond milk –  are stocked..

And now, the cookbook, written by Nicky  in loving memory of Steve, for their guests who savour their meals with enthusiasm and ask for recipes to take home.

Roast Pork Belly & Apples – pic by Sam Linsell

What will they find between the deceptively simple covers? Recipes are organised by place, by type of fare, by exotic influence and more.  Opening with five of their most popular dishes, including the “best burger in the Mara” we follow with  Kenyan recipes that reflect something of its multicultural past: Arab, Portuguese, British and Indian influence contribute to Swahili cuisine – here a trio of desserts star, Chocolate Pots with Sesame Shards, Muhamri Coconut Ice Cream Sandwich and Rice Pudding with Mango.

King of the Mara

Starters and sweets from the garden, pasta and a vegetarian casserole, ricotta pancakes and Moroccan minestrone add Med flavours, while Picnics on Safari present a refreshing trio of fruity iced drinks,  a popular street dish of a flavoured omelette wrapped in a chapatti, (wittily titled Ugandan Rolex), South African pickled fish and a dessert of  irresistible salted caramel brownies.  Tempting Middle Eastern dishes precede a chapter of  boma fare, another of an  Indian dinner and a  finale of outdoor eating at the forest barbecue.

The text concludes with a recipe index, while the beautiful food photographs by Sam Linsell  pay homage to the cook or chef who specialises in that dish.

Sam Linsell, who did the photography for the book

New trends in cookbook production? The non-culinary cover followed by colourful endpapers and no title page to talk of all could indicate such.  But I learnt that the cover design celebrates the traditional fabric associated with the lodge and the people of the region.

Readers will relish this delicious collection of Kenyan flavours  as a virtual safari that will titillate their tastebuds long after they have digested the contents.

Review written by Myrna Robins.

Looking out from the Lodge

OUT OF AN AFRICAN KITCHEN  by Nicky Fitzgerald. Published by Struik Lifestyle, Cape Town 2020.

Read more about Angama Mara – CLICK HERE

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