[Interview] Barbara Magara-Nkosana
She is the author of the Traditional Zimbabwean Cookbook (Lion Press, 2011).
In this interview, Barbara Magara-Nkosana talks about why she wrote the cookbook:
How would you describe the Traditional Zimbabwean Cookbook?
It is all about Zimbabwean cooking.
The book comprises of over 100 recipes of dishes that make Zimbabwe’s fascinating and diverse cuisine. The cookbook invites food lovers to taste the delicacies and flavours of Zimbabwean food.
How many books have you written so far?
This is the first cookbook that I have written, published by Lion Press.
My next book will talk all about contemporary Zimbabwean cooking, fusing the classic favourite Zimbabwean dishes with world cuisines.
I am hoping to invite food lovers to experiment with the fused tastes, hopefully bring Zimbabwean cuisine to the level that it deserves.
Why did you decide to write the Traditional Zimbabwean Cookbook?
I believe that knowledge is for sharing and that we cannot rely on oral tradition alone to preserve and maintain our culinary tradition.
I frequently got requests to share recipes for various dishes. In response to these requests, I made notes, e- mailed or gave cooking instructions over the telephone. With the advice of a friend, I started to compile recipes for the cookbook.
Was it difficult to write up the recipes?
Generally, when cooking, I tend not to measure quantities of ingredients because I have cooked the dishes for so long, and know what quantities to use from the top of my head. However, to test and write up the recipes for this book, I had to measure and time everything. This process was very time-consuming and challenging.
What did you enjoy about the process?
I enjoyed every step of creating the Traditional Zimbabwean Cookbook. I met wonderful people who welcomed me into their kitchens and shared their culinary skills.
Lasting friendships and a lot of lessons have been learnt in the process.
Cooking has been part of my life and my passion since childhood. A lot of my culinary skills were passed to me by my parents and extended family. I am very proud of the many fabulous cooks in my family. They have encouraged me to bring pleasure and enjoyment into my cooking.
Why is home cooking so important?
It is a way of bringing families and communities together. Sharing food is at the heart of Zimbabwean social life, be it in festive celebrations or commemorations.
What are your favourite foods?
Freshly picked wholesome horticultural produce which, in Zimbabwe, is seasonal. I also enjoy cooking dishes with sun-dried preserved foods, they add a distinctive flavour to the dish.
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