So what's the best way to explore a new world? Show up early, before the lunch crowd shows up? Book your reservations during the off season to get the best deal? Absolutely and unequivocally not. Ask any seasoned traveler what they do when they want to really experience a new city, and the answer is always "Get lost, get totally, completely immersed in the culture, the environment, the way of life." Justin Bonello allows us that very opportunity as he brings us along on an adventure through South Africa.
How deep does Justin take us into the South African jungle? Look no further than the first page of the book, where he provides a lexicon to commonly used South African words. Not just an add in, but a necessary guide as Bonello writes in certain South African words and phrases to all the recipes and anecdotes. It may sound gimmicky, but the concept of total immersion runs strong through the pages of this book. Recipes for traditional South African fare mingle with more modern meals that involve local, fresh product. An inspiring amount of information and techniques indigenous to Africa are used to create each dish, though Bonello offers solutions for those unable to build their own pit oven.
Such is the length that Bonello passionately goes to in order to slowly but surely open our eyes to a cuisine that has been looked over and dismissed for so many years. Regardless of how skeptical one turns the first page, upon closing the back cover you will have experienced South African cuisine in a way only few, until now, have been privy to. Similar to how the most unassuming and unappealing travel destinations almost always have a way of creating lasting memories, Justin Bonello welcomes you into his domain where he holds nothing back along the road to cultural enlightenment and immersion.
Book reviewed by Kevin Jeung