Sunday Tribune

Tributes to special mothers

The Food and Drinks writers pay tribute to their mother’s for the skills they taught them in the kitchen (and more)


today, and it makes it a lot easier to clean up after the meal is finished.

She always told me to keep the sink empty; to rinse dishes when I had finished using them, to wipe spills and throw away any waste.

I enjoyed cooking on Sundays more because she would assist. Preparing salads was an activity to look forward to every Sunday. Sooner or later, the yearning to experiment in the kitchen became second nature.

She also taught me about the importance of tradition in food. Growing up I knew Saturdays I had to cook umngqusho (samp and beans). Even today at home we know Saturdays are for umngqusho-served with chicken, mutton or beef stew.

Now as an adult, I am so grateful to her for demonstrat­ing that cooking is a labour of love. It is not always fun or fancy, instead it is a daily commitment you make because it is important, and you want to care for those you love. Even when there was no money, a very good meal was always ready and appreciate­d. One other thing I learnt from my mom was how to preserve food; nothing went to waste. have been taught in my mother’s kitchen have nothing to do with cooking or food.

Over the last few years her kitchen has been more than just the place where she does her cooking.

It is the place where we share jokes, have arguments, talk about the day and of course a plate of food.

My mother’s kitchen is my safe space where I know I can share anything with her.

We’ll talk for hours while she somehow manages to cook, clean and still give me her undivided attention over a cup of tea.

It is from that same kitchen where my mother would comfort me with her words, and she would pack a sandwich, heat a bowl of food or get some water for the many destitute people who usually come knocking for a bite to eat.

However, my earliest memory I have of time spent in the kitchen was the time shared with my late grandmothe­r.

Every afternoon I would get home from school and she would have already started with supper.

Once I asked my gran where she learned to cook and she said: “jy steel net met die oog” (you steal with your eyes).

In my attempts to steel met die oog, I would offer to chop onions. Ironic, because chopping onions makes you cry and today when I reflect on that time it makes me emotional.

The kitchen at my mother’s house is a space that has been passed down through generation­s of women and today I am filled with pride when I see my daughter running around in my mother’s kitchen.

The food in my mother’s house is just another reflection of her love for her family and granddaugh­ter, it’s the memories that we make, that is what we love serving up.

The first memory I have of my mother in the kitchen was when I was about 10 years old and my mother would be baking up a storm.

Aunty Merle as she is fondly known would bake her special chocolate cake for friends and family, and for all who thought that she had the best recipe around.

Using just the right amount of cocoa powder, flour, and sugar, she somehow managed to get a perfectly textured mixture for the cake that no one else could replicate. Being the youngest of four children I would never let my height and age stop me from muscling in next to my mom to get my hands on the chocolate covered spoon, or even one of the whisks from the mixer, before it landed in the kitchen sink.

Aunty Merle can bake and cook up a storm with the best of them. Christmas and Easter is when all of her talents in the kitchen are on show. Still today my mom makes the best roast, her own version of KFC chicken, a delicious steak pie and roast potatoes like no one else I know. She has a family recipe for small coconut tarts that are a tradition in our home. My brother-in-law insists that Aunty Merle makes these tart-lets every Christmas because it’s not the festive season without the sweet coconut treats.

This is what my mother taught me about cooking and baking, you never do it entirely for your own pleasure. Food is something that is best enjoyed when it’s shared with those we love. And when you cook, make sure you do it with passion and love or don’t do it at all.

On Mother’s Day though she has the day off and gets treated to lunch at a restaurant of her choice.the entire Sunday is structured around what she wants to do. She’s not allowed in the kitchen and gets to put her feet up and enjoy the day with her children and grandchild­ren.

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