As regular readers of this website will know, I often extoll the virtues of South African wine and cuisine. I love the unique fusion of cultures that created our rainbow cuisine, and I love how our wine industry is perched perfectly between the Old World and the New. I think this diversity gives our cuisine a unique edge that we have up to now seldom appreciated, but now it seems that the rest of the world is turning its attention to Africa. Our stories are being told (Tsotsi, Blood Diamond, Last King of Scotland), our talents celebrated (Mark Shuttleworth, JM Coetzee, Charelize Theron) – and now finally our food and wine are taking their place in the spotlight.
First up, To the Banqueting House: African cusine, an epic journey (Anna Trapido and Coco Fathi Reinarhz) won the award for best culinary history book. Although not strictly speaking a South African book, the book does have South African authors and publishers, which is presumably how it fits into this category. Anna is a chef, lecturer and freelance journalist while Coco is the Executive Chef at posh Johannesburg eaterie Sel et Poivre. The book looks not only at the rich tapsetry that is African cuisine today and how it developed, but also attempts to trace the influence that African cuisine has had on the world through the African diaspora.
Secondly, The Essential Guide to South African Wines, Terroir and Travel (Elmari Swart and Izak Smit) won the award for best New World wine book. Unlike many wine guides that rater individual wines from various producers, this book really focuses on wine styles (rather than cultivars or estates) and issues of terroir, and divides the rather vast demarcated wine regions into more manageable "pockets" that share characteristics of terroir. The authors also provide GPS co-ordinates for the navigationally challenged tourist, as well as highlighting points of local interest near wine farms, local restaurants and accommodations.
And lastly, Vin de Constance with Michel Roux Jr. (Michel Roux Jr. and Jos Baker) won the award for best book on food and wine matching. Yes, that’s Michel Roux Jr. of Le Gavroche fame. And yes, he really did take time out from his busy schedule to co-author a book devoted entirely to suitable recipes to match the famous South African dessert wine, Vin de Constance (most recently mentioned in my Le Manoir review). I know what’s going to be on my wishlist for the foreseeable future…
What more can I say – my little South African heart swells with pride, and in the not-too-distant future, my bookshelf will be swelling with three new books