The somewhat overused “Local is Lekker” moniker has been turned on its head. We hope the Local isn’t lekker phrase will make readers sit up and take notice – if not in outrage, then at least curiosity!

Of course, the qualifier, that whilst these local books may not be the benign ‘lekker’, they are the much more interesting – delicious, spicy, hearty, zesty and more – drives the message home how totally wonderful local cookbooks and local cooks can be.

The title selection of Tasty Reads this year, is like the perfect dish – carefully chosen ingredients that do not duplicate flavours and a local foodie fraternity where each complements the other.


[divider]Some foodie trends Exclusive Books are seeing[/divider]

21st century eating is all about conscious eating. Plant based diets continue to be a hot trend in food – growing like weeds in fact – making a book like Veggie Licious by Mokgadi Itsweng still bang on trend.

Contemporary food relates so directly to lifestyle choices and books like Living the Ultimate Keto Lifestyle by Hendrik Marais… emphasize nutrition’s role in the balance of sleep, exercise and stress management.

Perhaps the most heartwarming trend we are seeing in South Africa cookbook publishing is how ordinary people are getting into the kitchen – Sifo The Cooking Husband by Sinoyolo Sifo is the husband who cooks, breaking gender stereotypes, and with his food and his book, challenge us to consider who exactly “belongs” in the kitchen?

With September as the Heritage month, it seems entirely appropriate to celebrate both heritage food and styles of cooking:

– Slow cooking on the braai or in the potjie pot are celebrated in Die Demokratiese Republiek van Braai 2 by Jan Braai and Oor die Kole by Martelize Brink. Low and slow not just the cooking heat, but also the family gathering, the process, the lifestyle approach.

– Chef Mbombi author of An African Bite asserts that if we don’t keep cooking heritage dishes, we’ll lose them forever. As the zero-waste trends shows no signs of abating, traditional dishes use as much and all parts of plant and animal, so besides for upholding heritage, traditional foods have more than one thing going for them.

– Named for the assortment of colours it presents when served, Simply Seven Colours by Zola Nene is a traditional South African meal that would include rice, chicken or beef, and sides such as pumpkin, sweet potatoes, beetroot, cabbage, beans salad, potato salad, or coleslaw. SABC 3’s Zanele van Zyl and her book Cooking with Zanele is part of the personality driven cookbook trend seen around the world, but with a very local twist.

– We like how the “side hustle” – such a prominent feature of 21 century life – has even reflected in the Tasty Reads selection – with books like Baking by Christine Capendale…

Good food is always about balance, complementing flavours, presentation, warmth, togetherness, comfort and passion. In our current reality, both in our lives and around our tables, where the benign “lekker” must be replaced by more robust descriptors, Exclusive Books Tasty Reads is the South African story, told through food.