Some dishes taste like home. When you sink your teeth into a specific meal, there’s more to it than taste and nutrition. Some meals taste like the warmth of arriving home, Sundays around a dinner table, or the celebration of a milestone with your loved ones. And more often than not, these meals are prepared by special women in our lives.
These dishes are like heirlooms; passed from one generation to the next. To celebrate the women in our lives, we’ve put together a list of traditional South African recipes that date back to previous generations.
Vetkoek and mince
For many people, amagwinya was the breakfast of champions. No morning was complete without a serving of vetkoek and mince. While some are content with buying this iconic meal at a spaza, many knew that purchasing this meal meant it was missing a crucial ingredient: a mother’s love. Plenty of people who had this dish prepared by their mother, grandmother or aunt have inherited the recipe and went on to make a plate of vetkoek and mince for their loved ones.
Chicken dishes are the order of the day. For many people, it’s the meat that’s featured on most of their everyday recipes. Then from time to time, a beef dish will add a bit of variety to your dining. Then there’s mutton. It’s not the type of meat most people eat regularly, but certain occasions call for something out of the ordinary. What better way to celebrate a graduation, family reunion or retirement than with a hearty mutton stew? And long after many women have left the nest and started families of their own, this South African favourite still finds its way onto their plates.
You can’t be blamed for thinking this meal is only enjoyed at a dinner table. Indeed, beef sishebo is usually the last meal of the day, but there’s usually quite a bit left at the end of the night. And chances are, your mother packed the leftovers into a lunchbox so you could enjoy it in between lectures at university or during your hour-long break at work. As soon as you reheat that meal and dig in, it’s like you’re at the dinner table with your family all over again. It’s no wonder many women have gone on to prepare this sishebo for their own families. This is one meal with a lot of mileage.
If you’ve never considered making a family tree of food, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. There’s something heartwarming about the fact that the meals we love were enjoyed by those who came before us. And there’s no reason the next generation can’t have the same experience.