My nooi is in n’ naartjie, my ouma in kaneel, daar’s iemand in anys, daar’s n’ vrou vir elke geur…

That is from a poem by the beloved Afrikaans poet, DJ Opperman and translates as:

My girlfriend is in tangerine, my grandmother in cinnamon, there’s someone in aniseed, there’s a woman in every aroma…

And so it is that my own Ganny Sue is in the smell of banana muffins and I’m transported to her kitchen every time I bake them.

Ganny Sue was my father’s step-mother. His biological mother died before I was born. My maternal Nan was a citified working woman and totally different to Ganny-Sue, who was the archetypical farm-wife; she bottled fruits and vegetables, baked bread every day and made her own clothes. She was always in the middle of some ambitious sewing project and would have a few pins stuck in her blouse, or a thimble in her pocket. She had an old dressmaker’s dummy that she called Daphne and poor old Daphne was loudly blamed if anything went wrong. My Grampy used to say to me “Old Daph’s in for it again, what say you and me take a little walk and fetch the eggs”.

Her sewing room was a delight for a little girl; she had a seat that opened up to a three-tiered sewing box containing all manner of sewing notions. There were bits of rolled up ribbon, reels of cotton and buttons galore. Tape measures and tassels dangled from the lampshade and a big basket of fabric leftovers stood in a corner. It was from this box that I learned to sew when I got a little older.

This is a little frock that she made for me when I was a baby. Sadly the box it was stored in was damaged by a flood some years ago, and the wet wood stained the dress.



  1. Truly a pleasure to read, Cin. Thanks for conjuring some aromatic memories for me as well. Because my mom was not domestically inclined and I had no access to my grandmothers, I was always drawn to neighbours who were like your gram.

    • There’s a shop called Bakin’ Bitz at the Careira Centre in Republic Road, just a bit up from the Brightwater Commons. I bought the muffin holders there. Fabulous shop with all manner of baking things.

  2. I know exactly what you mean about smells triggering memory.
    My botherer visited a couple of days ago and brought some excellent peanut biscuits, which took me straight back to a cottage we lived in (post South Africa) when I was 5 ish…. Ma used to cook peanut biscuits there. I must find the recipe!

  3. I so remember that afrikaans poem from school and the beautiful baking smells that it conjured up for me. Your little gingham frock reminds me of the apron we made at school. Such nostalgia …. we are all on a muffin plak at the mo too!!! Beautiful post angel xxx

  4. Such lovely memories. An honor to be a banana muffin. This post reminded me of my babysitter/next door neighbor. She taught me to sew by hand when I was four, and I will never forget how her food tasted so much better than anyone elses!

    • There’s a shop called Bakin’ Bitz at the Careira Centre in Republic Road, Randburg, just a bit up from the Brightwater Commons. I bought the muffin holders there. Fabulous shop with all manner of baking things.

  5. Such great memories, Cindy! Granny Sue sounds like a very special woman. My maternal grandmother didn’t cook much because she was married to a CC Camp cook, my step grandfather. He took over and she let him. My paternal grandmother cooked, and her hubby, my grandfather, couldn’t boil water. They were both sweethearts. I can imagine how the aroma of banana muffins that she used to bake for you would call up memories even sweeter than those muffins. Blessings to you, Cindy…

  6. What a lovely lady Ganny-Sue was – and a cute-as-a-button little dress she made you!
    I also get transported back in time by aromas – it’s such a distinct kind of nostalgia. I love it.
    Sunshine xx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s