Kalk Bay Books was, once again, humming with delighted customers as friends, family and many fans of Sophia Lindop arrived to celebrate two of her latest cookbooks. Gathering before the launch, they were invited to try various tasty samples from the books.
This double delight forms part of her Flavours and Traditions series and the latest contributions are entitled Braai and Potjie Flavours and Traditions and South African Flavours and Traditions.
Lindop spoke about her understanding of her work as a chef and food writer, and acknowledged the people who’ve contributed to her success. She shared the story of how she and her husband Paddy embarked on their food journey and kept the audience entertained with her lively account of the process of putting these books together.
This was the speech she made that night:
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Every country has its own “food story”, and some, like the ancient European civilisations, are rooted in ancient traditions. We as South Africans often dismiss ours or deem it less important, and at times even non-existent, when in reality it is the very reason why we are standing here in beautiful Kalk Bay today.
Nine years ago I decided to open our home to overseas groups for dinner – I wanted to show them the heart and soul of this beautiful country through the eyes of two passionate South Africans, namely Paddy and me. A few months later the first group arrived and I began, with Paddy, to tell the story of South Africa, its people, its wine, and its cuisine – a journey I have enjoyed and one which changed the course of my life.
One evening a journalist from the Cape Times joined one of those dinners and a week later a lovely write-up appeared in the paper. Years later, that experience led her to recommend me to a publisher who wanted someone to tell the story of Cape Town and its food. That little book, the first in this series, is an incredible success and for that I thank Dominique Herman and especially Neil Austen.
Neil then decided that the story should go on, and he asked me to do a book on South Africa and its food story. When I was at the point where I was ready to hand over my manuscript and all my food photographs, Neil broke the news that he could no longer be involved in the project and ended our conversation with, “I have full confidence in you and know that you can take this task to completion.”
Now, anyone who knows Neil will know that he calls a spade a darn front-end loader, so his words filled me with courage and before I knew it, I had agreed to coordinating this project and being involved with the design. As I jumped off the cliff, as I so often do, I was wondering what on earth I had smoked that morning … but it was too late.
There were times when I ran something past Neil and the profanities that were uttered cannot be repeated to a sensitive audience … we would then go back to the drawing board and do better. Although Neil cannot be here tonight, I owe him a big thank you!
Jumping off that cliff took me on a new journey, one of photographers, design, colour and project management, and another title, Braai and Potjie. For this exciting new challenge, I thank Neil. I had to surround myself with a team who could help me, and that’s how I found the editor and designer team Sean and Tracey Fraser. I practically moved into their home for a month or two and I am afraid they might ask me to help pay for therapy for their son who must be feeling rejected as I am no longer there when he gets home from school.
And then, despite having done all the food photography and a few others myself, these little books are filled with colourful pictures and I needed a whole lot of them – on a low budget. I want to thank photographers Gale McAll, Hougaard Malan, Paul Bruins and Liezel Kershoff for their amazing talent that you can see in these books.
But then the budget was fast running out and I turned to friends whose photography I admire and who might not have had the exposure that established photographers have. I asked Tinus Lamprecht, a well-known bird photographer, for some of his stunning work. Tinus’ work will be featured in the latest version of one of the local bird books. He manages to capture the personality of a bird and is super talented. I am so excited to have had you onboard with this project.
And I was lucky enough to get Debbie Wieland’s amazing photographs into this book. Debbie has such an amazing eye and managed to capture the soul of a place through her lens – a huge thanks to her as well!
Nico Traut gave me a picture to use too, or rather I used it and then told him I had! He is the very reason why I have a camera in the first place, so it is fitting that he should feature somewhere in all of this.
And then there is Dr Dawid Rossouw, my husband’s business partner. Dawid, I often think that Paddy is the luckiest man alive – he has the most amazing partners to help him through every day. You take on the long day shift, and then I take over for the night. Dawid is someone who takes on new challenges and then perfects them, and one day, when I popped in at the practice, he showed me what he had done with a new underwater camera that he had purchased. Some of those pictures, as well as others that he had taken on his fishing and shooting trips, now grace the inside of these beautiful little books. Thank you, Dawid!
A very special thank you to Laetitia Gerber and Dalene Kapah who helped me complete the task before me by preparing the recipes so that I could concentrate on the photography. The laughs and destressing were invaluable and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you to team Jacana for your support during this process, and in particular Carol Broomhall. Also, a big thank you to the marketing team, and in particular Wilma, for your efforts in getting the books into bookstores and ultimately sold.
Thanks to Kalk Bay Books for hosting this event and for all you did in the run-up to today.
I would also like to thank my brother, Richard, and his wife, Sonia, for their love, support and excitement. Then my parents drove 1 000 km to be here today … but they have driven much more in emotional miles with me too. Thank you for your sacrifice, your example, your unconditional love and your support. Without all of you my life would be poorer! I am proud to call you family.
And then I would like to thank the many American, Canadian and German guests who have graced our tables at home and fuelled my enthusiasm about this country, its people, its food and wine, and its story. I am forever indebted.
And I cannot stand here without the knowledge that, had I been with anyone other than Paddy Lindop, I would not be standing here at all. Paddy has been my biggest fan, my tireless supporter, my pre-editor, at times when I couldn’t find the words, my writing aide, my cook when I could think of nothing other than writing, my taster and tester of recipes, my braai inspiration, and the absolute love of my life. Thank you for everything, my love! You are the unsung hero, and these books are dedicated to you, to us, and to the rich life that you give me.
Thank you all for making the effort to be here to celebrate with me this evening. I will now be signing books, and might I remind you that Christmas is around the corner.
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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:
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