This book resonates a time that was so intense (last year of university, people, plans) – and I’m definitely sure I’m not alone in saying that. Its creation happened in 2012 and included a wide range of people I kn0w, from designers (class project) to photographers and neighbours. We all came together to support someone who had an opportunity and we were delighted to be a part of it, no matter how small was the role that we played.
Carina Truyts was my neighbour at the time this was going down and the people who were a part of the creative process were in my year (JMS IV). The food was cooked in friends’ houses to ensure variety and we all ate Carina’s delicious creations with pleasure as someone snapped pics around us.
Published in both English and Afrikaans, Yum-mo is a student cookbook that offers the user a chance to leap into a South African point of view on student cooking, using local ingredients that are easily available (and seasonal) to create something delicious.
It’s elbows deep in soapy water, washing pots and pans together. It’s baking biscuits in teams, having picnics outside or on the stoep, and learning how to save a flop. It’s considerate of empty pockets and doesn’t alienate the non-foodie, the busy bee or those who aren’t too keen on washing dishes.
From what it seems, Carina’s life is about food. After studying at Silwood Kitchens, she worked as a private chef and then attended Rhodes to bulk up her knowledge on food from another viewpoint. Now, doing her Masters by Research at UCT in Social Anthropology, Carina is interested in people’s relationship with and around food, and how those relationships impact on their health and lives.
1) Could you elaborate on the origin of the name, Yum-mo?
I actually can’t remember where I first heard it, or how it lodged in me. It just appeals to me as something to say when you eat something really delicious. I think it has something to do with the syllables, (to really get into it haha). It’s nice, the way the word makes you squish your lips together then round them out. I like how it feels to say it.
2) Tell us: most frustrating recipe to get right & the one so easy, you forgot it was even featured.
Tricksy. Probably Sunshine Pasta was the easiest. That’s because I used to make it when I was in res, (I got to the point when I couldn’t bear res food every day). So if I could make the whole thing in a sardine-sized res room and a corridor microwave, then you know it’s really easy. Most frustrating recipe to develop must have been the Moist Chocolate (cup)cakes. I made it a zillion times. I wanted it to be easy to make into a cake or cupcakes. And I think the altitude makes a difference, and maybe the sugar. I made the cake version again the other day and it sunk! Grief! A delicious sinkhole, mind you.
3) You were studying a Rhodes while everything was going down – so from the inspiration to the design and photographs is everything ‘in-house’?
Yup. And the models, too. My digsmates, neighbours and friends all generously offered their faces up for photos and their tastebuds for tasting trials. I couldn’t afford professional photographers, which turned out to be a good thing. Instead, I had three JMS IV photojourn students (Andrew Brukman, Chris de Beer and Sara Garrun) who came in weekly and bore with me as we learned food photography. Then, (as you know) the really amazing thing happened when the Design IV class had the book as their semester project – it gave me such a kick, that and the design is based on student Stephanie Pretorius’s work. The marketing also ended up being a student-thing. The TUKS university Honours markerting class is currently dealing with the marketing and publicity as their term project. It’s pretty damn cool.
4) You cover a range of experience levels, but do you have recipes that offer variations for those who are vegetarian, vegan and even lactose intolerant & gluten-free? I mean, we’re talking students here 😛
The veg chapter is the longest in the book, and I really tried to show people how to cook creatively with vegetables. Loads of those recipes are vegan, too, although I didn’t purposely focus on that. While there are loads of lactose and gluten-free recipes, I didn’t mark them out. Maybe in my next one!
5) Your main target is students – who else and why would anyone buy Yum-mo?
Well, the typical challenges that students face (flat pockets, low electricity meters, limited time and lack of expertise) are issues for many people. The book is for all of them, too. Anyone that’s just a little intimidated by the kitchen space, or by grocery stores. Anyone that hears all this talk of herbs and spices but doesn’t really know where to go with cumin or thyme or cardamom. Also, people who never know what the hell to cook. It’s always the hardest part, I feel. And flicking through Yum-mo should inspire all sorts of ideas. Also – anyone who wants to move away from jar-sauces and instant mixes but just doesn’t quite know how. And while it really is aimed at beginners, there are also loads of ideas for people who can already cook but just want a few ideas for flavour combos and impressive things for special occasions.
6) As with any action, there are events that tend to follow. How’s the future looking for both the book and your cooking?
I think the book’s future is looking peach-like. There has been a lot of interest from the media (I’m going to be on TV, the marketing people say), and new things are unrolling every day. I’ll keep cooking, I have to feed myself during my Research Masters in Social Anthropology (which I’m currently doing at UCT). I’m working on food from a rather different perspective – how nourishment is shaped in the first 1000 days of life. So basically my vibe is to keep cooking. Keep reading. Keep writing. And keep thinking about what food means to us, and then see how things unfold from there. I’m hoping that one day my cooking and anthropological and writing lives will cross and I’ll happily waltz around in the worlds between them till then.
7) The most original feature in your book?
The icon for low power usage (when I lived in Grahamstown expensive electricity plagued my life so I figured it’s important to lots of students).
8) Spicy Mexican or Sweetheart Dessert?
I AM ADDICTED TO NACHOS. And spice. And guacamole.
9) Your kitchen essential?
A good knife. And a hand blender. And an snackwich maker. I know. 3. But shoo. Also a good pan. .Yoh. It’s too hard to just pick one. That’s why I put a triangular Yum-mo hierachy of kitchen needs in the book so you could see what the priorities are.
10) Best album to cook to?
Hmmm I feel that the album really depends on what you are making. And what you’re drinking.
But I might cook meat to The Arctic Monkeys (AM) and spunky salads and veggie dishes to Caravan Palace. And I make pasta or risotto to Edith Piaf (you should try it. It just feels right.). And I like to bake to Hot Chip (The Warning, and Made In The Dark- actually there are so many applicable baking lines for baking in both those albums). [