You know Martha Stewart, right? The American gourmet, businesswoman, writer and TV personality. The gist; she basically found an empire anchored on cooking (and other activities that naturally accompany cooking such as a home and living). Pre-internet, her glossy Martha Living magazine enthralled me to no end, after first scouring through Vogue and Ebony and such other magazines with pictures of beautiful people. I always read her name as Stew Art, in my mind, tantalising smells courtesy of a carefully cultivated craft of preparing palatable casseroles and broth. Take one.
Take two. Chicken Soup for the Soul. Traditionally, chicken soup has always been viewed as a universal remedy for that persistent and embarrassing cold. And so, when I landed my first title off this wonderful series (hard copy with a missing jacket), the title on the spine transported me to a wonderful kitchen where I could cook and gorge meself with chicken thighs and chicken soup aplenty. Only that I got more than that in the form of tens of inspiring stories; 101 stories to be exact, the magic number 101 probably borrowing from the 101 Dalmatians.
Take three. French Lessons in Africa: Travels with My Briefcase Through French Africa by Peter Biddlecombe. The book’s blurb as it appears on Amazon and which is a true reflection of the stories within; “Having travelled across West Africa for over 10 years, Peter Biddlecombe’s often hilarious account is a highly readable, hugely entertaining introduction to French Africa. In countries such as Togo, Mali, and Burkina Faso, Biddlecome encounters old-fashioned camel butchers, modern witch doctors who run mail-order companies, gold smugglers, and counterfeiters who send their sons to Oxford. He also experiences eerie voodoo ceremonies in the old slave port of Ouidah and Italian ice-cream parlours in the middle of the Sahara Desert. And Biddlecombe reveals not only Francophone Africa’s politics, business traditions, and culture, but also provides a mass of practical advice on everything from how to eat a water-rat to talking your way through a road block in the middle of an attempted coup.”
Where am I going with this? That a tastefully done cookbook is more than a collection of recipes of tasty dishes and tantalising imagery depicting this. That it has to have a personality – a personal touch to it the way a renowned master chef has a signature dish. That it has to have elements of adventure as it blends the exotic dish with the local, that it has to evoke tonnes of creative memories (and perhaps, a few sad ones, for such is life) as it tells a story. In essence, making it a family heirloom to be passed from one generation to another and light up the kitchen and the living room. All these while embracing the adage that the way to another soul is through the stomach and that the best kind of laugher emanates from the belly. A full belly.
And just to get you started on writing your own cookbook in which to share you and your family’s interpretation of the joy of cooking, you can glean through Martha Stewart’s online kitchen at www.marthastewart.com for inspiration. And no, inspiration is not limited to only culinary aficionados, even copywriters can glean insights from this.
Sample this: November 06, 2017, Feast on Fall Flavours with Our Dinner Recipes This Week, “Everyone knows how important family dinner is… nutritionally, socially, budgetwise, and in so many other ways. Those of us who actually cook a weeknight meal also know how difficult it can be to feed hungry kids and ravenous partners in a delicious, healthy fashion in a limited time. We’re here for you with dinner recipes and inspiration – and lots of support! The weeknight recipes take less than an hour of mostly hands-off time, many cook much quicker than that but may require constant stirring. These are meals the whole family can enjoy. Yes, there will be pasta. So join us every week for dinnertime inspiration.” Followed by a week’s worth of recipes for precisely this.