A journey that started six years ago, paved the way for two Bonteheuwel pensioners, when their book, Kook Saam Kaaps, was launched with a live radio broadcast and much fanfare on Thursday March 3.
It all started when Koelsoem Kamalie’s youngest son, Riaz, who is a regular listener of Radio Sonder Grense (RSG), wrote to Amore Bekker, the presenter of the afternoon show, Tjailatyd, to tell her that his mother’s food is the best and that she is welcome to ask his mother for her recipes.
Since then, Ms Kamalie, 67, and later her friend, Florence “Flori” Schrikker, 63, have been sharing their recipes and became regular contributors to the show.
Their willingness to freely share their recipes and the traditions that go with sharing a meal, gave Japie Gouws, the executive director of the Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuurvereniging (ATKV), the idea of capturing all this in a recipe book.
He asked Tania de Kock from Lees Afrikaans Praat Afrikaans (Lapa) Uitgewers, to get hold of the two women.
Lapa Uitgewers is an affiliate of the ATKV.
At the time, Ms De Kock only had Ms Kamalie’s first name, and the area she was from, but with the help of Ms Bekker, and a bit of “cyber stalking”, she jokingly said, she managed to track them down.
The Athlone News shared the pensioners’ story, when it was made official that their book would be launched this month (“Cooking up a storm the local way,” Athlone News, September 16, 2015).
Initially, it was planned to have the launch at the Stellenbosch Woordfees, but the venue changed to the Bonteheuwel multi-purpose centre, where people from as far as Pretoria gathered for the occasion. The book has 80 recipes – 40 each from Ms Kamalie and Ms Schrikker.
On Thursday March 3, guests at the launch were entertained by Afrikaans hip hop artist, Hemelbesem, among others.
Asked why he challenged Ms Bekker to try his mother’s recipes, Riaz Kamalie said: “To me, food is like fuel. If it is of an inferior nature, then you won’t get the same performance.
“Similarly, the body can only function properly with the right kind of food – and I know my mother’s food is top-notch.”
Ms Kamalie and Ms Schrikker, who are both diabetic, met at the local diabetic club, and at times, they also shared diabetic-friendly recipes on air.
Her love for cooking, Ms Kamalie said, was passed on to her from her grandmother, who raised her, and later her uncle, “who shared the same qualities” with his mother.
In his message of support, Pastor Samuel Africa, said Bonteheuwel was often in the newspapers “for all the wrong reasons”.
“There are many lovely people in Bonteheuwel and food brings people together, irrespective of your background,” Mr Africa added.
Ms Kamalie said she believed the book was God’s way of rewarding her for her charitable efforts over the years. “I feel so good. I cook and distribute food once a month, and I think this is God’s way of rewarding me. There are so many hungry people out there,” she said.
Ms Schrikker was so excited about the launch that it was difficult for her to sleep the night before.
“I had to take a sleeping tablet. I was just so excited that the day has finally arrived. I still can’t believe it actually happened. I want to give God all the praise and glory for this,” she said.
Mr Gouws said he was encouraged to publish the recipe book, as heritage was important.
“We live in a time where statues are being defaced, but our heritage is not just about monuments. When we heard how you spoke with passion, we felt this was part of heritage.
“I was encouraged to think that when more and more people are aware of it, then we can understand each other better. Let’s not hover too much on our differences, because many of us agree that with food, conversation and a nice ‘kuier’ – that is ultimately how we get to know one another.”
The book is a joint venture between RSG, Lapa Uitgewers and the ATKV, and the women will earn royalties from the book sales.