My first cookbook, Trouvrou, started as a high school dream. I am a small-town girl from South Africa’s Eastern Free State province. Where I grew up, everyone speaks Afrikaans, even the Sotho people, who bring their own beautiful flavour to my mother tongue. Trouvrou is a familiar Afrikaans word that is widely understood, but difficult to translate. I suppose the most accurate translation would be something along the lines of “the kind of woman you would want to marry”. Personally, I like to think that the word captures the very essence of what it means to be the wife that King Solomon describes in Proverbs 31.

One day, I started to wonder about the concept of a trouvrou. What would she look like in the vast array of other cultures in South Africa? I later discovered that many African cultures use the word Makoti. I suspect that this word is similar to the Afrikaans-speaking person’s concept of what it means to be a trouvrou.

That same day, I received a message from a friend who had a copy of my first cookbook in one of the guest cottages on their farm. She had found the following note in the book:

“I totally enjoyed going through your cookbook, Trouvrou, and seeing many familiar recipes. I thought of the farm as a place of peace and happiness. How do we extend this to the whole nation, and world? – Nozizwe”

How could this be? How could my traditional cookbook, rooted in my heritage as an Afrikaans-speaking South African, contain recipes that are familiar to Nozizwe? And then it dawned upon me.

Ubuntu – I am because we are.

It was a homecoming moment for me. Recipes transcend time and ownership. 

Where does a recipe truly originate? Who does it belong to? If my ouma (grandmother) had taught Nozizwe’s gogo (grandmother) a recipe and if her gogo had, in turn, taught my ouma a new dish, whose dishes are they really? This made me reflect on the beauty of this rainbow nation of ours; the beauty of food and its potential to build bridges between our different cultures, because in the end, we are all simply South Africans.

This book is my attempt to dip into this spicy, colourful, unique and flavourful pot of recipes that make us the people of Mzansi. This book is in no way a full representation of the food stories of South Africa. In a country with such a wealth of cultures, how could any single cookbook possibly be? It is, however, my way to start building a bridge from where I find myself to where I would like to be. Along the way, I have the joy of learning from the beautiful people of the country of my birth.

If you live abroad, I hope that this collection of recipes brings back fond memories of your home country. If, like myself, you find your feet still firmly planted on African soil, my wish is that Trouvrou Msanzi will take you to spaces and places you might not yet have explored and make you even more proud to be called a South African.

May the recipes in these pages inspire you to set many a table, open your doors widely, dine with your neighbours and discover anew the spirit of Ubuntu as you learn more about the unique culinary heritage that weaves us all together in our rainbow nation.

May God bless this magnificent land.

 “A recipe is a story that ends with a good meal.” – Pat Conroy


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