It would seem that I will never reach the bottom of my goodie bag from #FBI2011. Casting about for ideas for a hearty meal (our weather has suddenly turned very cold) I came across one of the books which was included in the bag. It is Bon appétit, MR PRESIDENT! by Hilton Little, chef to the presidents of South Africa. The book is beautifully presented, but stays true to the humble African cuisine favoured by past presidents, with specific reference to former presidents Mandela and Mbeki.

From page 41:

Samp and beans (Xhosa: Umngqusho) is almost always on the menu wherever the President might be – and it is a big favourite of both Heads of State that Hilton has served. When introducing new dishes, he watches with interest when the plates are returned to the kitchen. Those that have been enjoyed are of course gratifyingly empty. Samp and beans needed no approval test.

I’d just finished editing a chapter in a book, the subject dealt with what lies at the core of African culture, and was mulling over the concept of ubuntu; that wonderful philosophy of being open and available to others, “I am what I am because of who we all are“.

I had two hours to think about this; that’s how long it took me to cook the samp and beans and get a brisket stew simmering. As I dished the supper bowls, Lesotho-born Alice said, You made it just like my mother.

Just like an 80 year old Sotho lady?

I’m really quite proud of that.

Now, if our current president would stop his polygyny and concentrate on government instead, we just may end up with the greatest country in the world.

For an interview with Hilton Little, click here.


56 thoughts on “UBUNTU AND UMNGQUSHO

  1. Well…that looks like a rather heavy meal to have just before bed…but it does look interesting…I’ll reconsider it in the morning…good night my friend.

  2. Sounds like a compliment to me that you can cook like ‘an 80 year old Sotho lady’!

    (I had to google samp, though)

  3. Delicious, Cindy, with stew as you served and with curry too. It is also nice just with butter, salt and pepper. I have cooked samp and beans quite often since my operation to get my strength back. My mother grew up in Transkei and she used to cook umngqusho now and again as a change from our ‘western’ foods.

  4. We had it every single saturday at home. I have really crave for it to eat it. Maybe once or twice a year.
    Your post warmed my heart. You make it very hard to not to love you :).

  5. Naomi could confirm this, but I believe we ate that dish in the Townships outside of Cape Town. Certainly we ate African fare that is not found in the restaurants where we ate. Loved the food and the homey-ness.

  6. Ooh Cin, I so was craving this over the past weekend. I will make this recipe as soon as I have a chance to go to the shop to get the samp and beans. In the meantime Im salivating over your picture.

  7. I ate Samp and Beans for the first time in adult hood – I know – sad! I must confess to never have cooked it myself before and the variation I thoroughly enjoy is with Tandy’s favourite veggie – bacon!
    🙂 Mandy

  8. I cook a large amount of this in my slow cooker an freeze it in small portions. Then I use it as a base for lekker strifry by adding either/or bits of bacon, mushrooms, eggplant, cocktail tomatoes, whole kernel corn or whatever leftovers I have in my fridge. I can promise you it is a feast and very healthy and low GI as well.

  9. Samp and Beans…one of my favourites…only they fill you up and then you get hungry again quite quickly…a bog blob of butter and loads of pepper…yum.

  10. I honestly can say (embarressed while saying it though) I have never tried samp and beans. In fact I would not know where in the aisle to find it, or what to then do with it.
    (Puppy with her tail between her legs)
    I know….I know.

    • Start today, bokkie!
      The samp & beans are kept in the isle where the mealie meal is. A packet cost about R5. Go home and put the packet contents in a pot and cover with water. Put the lid on and leave it until tomorrow.
      Tomorrow; rinse the beans and cover with fresh water, boil for two hours, with 2 teaspoons of stock powder . Then take Lidia’s comments (above) and make your supper.

    • Thanks for the visit, Preeva, I can’t get into your blog, it keeps rejecting my comments saying my URL contains illegal characters 🙂
      Not very ubuntu, hey?

  11. That is high praise – even any dish I made “just like my [own] mother” I would consider a high compliment. As for ubuntu, seems to me it’s hard to find the real thing in political circles anywhere…

  12. Hi, Cin,
    I have no idea how to fix your problems getting to my blog. I also opened at account on WordPress, and once I figure it out, maybe I’ll move everything over. Not that it’s such a great blog–I am a little scattered–two computers, two cameras, different operating system on each one!

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