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 Comments Add yours

  1. slpmartin says:

    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.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Good morning, sweet friend, sleep well 😀

  2. nrhatch says:

    Interesting dish. I’ve never heard of umngqusho before. I googled it to see a recipe.

    Quite a compliment from Alice. 😀

    1. theonlycin says:

      It’s quite a difficult word to pronounce; the q is a click-sound. um-click-nooshoo 🙂

  3. earlybird says:

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

    (I had to google samp, though)

    1. theonlycin says:

      We forget that things familiar to us may not be known the world over 🙂

  4. adeeyoyo says:

    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.

    1. theonlycin says:

      We grew up with it too, adee, I really enjoy it.

  5. Well, at 80 she has had more experience cooking it than you have, so that was indeed a compliment

    1. theonlycin says:

      And Alice’s wide smile was worth a thousand rainbows 😀

  6. Nzwaa says:

    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 :).

    1. theonlycin says:

      Aw … love you too, Kiddo xxx

  7. libraryscene says:

    I love these snippets of food history … simply love the sentiment of ubuntu, so refreshing ~

    1. theonlycin says:

      If only each and every person would practice it.

  8. souldipper says:

    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.

    1. theonlycin says:

      You almost certainly have had it in the Cape townships.

  9. Tilly Bud says:

    That really is a compliment!

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’m dead chuffed, Tilly 🙂

  10. Baglady says:

    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.

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’m lucky, I have a bowl of leftovers 😀

  11. 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

    1. theonlycin says:

      I also like it, but Our Alice’s religion forbids pork, so if she’s sharing a meal bacon’s a no-no.

  12. Lidia Theron says:

    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.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks Lidia 😀

  13. Liane says:

    Not meals fit for a king but rather meals fit for a president 🙂 The stew looks delish!

  14. granny1947 says:

    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.

    1. theonlycin says:

      And when you get hungry again … there’s cake 🙂

  15. granny1947 says:

    I didn’t mean a bog of butter…euwwwwwwww

    1. theonlycin says:

      No, a bog of butter ain’t a pretty picture ;p

  16. Tes says:

    I just love food with story behind it. This one looks so delicious.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thank you Tes 🙂

  17. 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.

    1. theonlycin says:

      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.

  18. Very interesting fare. It looks good, Cindy. Thank you for so much interesting food stuff. Blessings to you, Cindy..

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thanks Carol, hope you’re having a good week.

  19. Tandy says:

    what a compliment Alice gave you 🙂

  20. I always learn something new from your posts, Cin,
    In these parts, Ubuntu is a computer operating system or something like that.

  21. Thanks for the meaning of ubuntu!

    1. theonlycin says:

      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?

  22. gospelwriter says:

    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…

    1. theonlycin says:

      Sad, isn’t it, Ruth?

  23. Editing can make one very hungry 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Yes, one must pause frequently to refuel 🙂

  24. Now your talking., So interested in some real SA recipes.

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’ll try to post some more, Chef, but I draw the line at chicken-feet curry :-/

  25. Jamie Dedes says:

    Hearty healthy beans. Always good.

    Cindy, your photos get better all the time.

    1. Jamie Dedes says:

      … which is not to say they are not always good, just that you seem to do something unusual – like the first here – more often. Clever!

      1. theonlycin says:

        Thanks Jamie 🙂

  26. Tokeloshe says:

    I love this post!

    We get our Samp from the South-African stores.

    1. theonlycin says:

      There are specific SA produce stores there, Tok, that’s nice for you!

  27. 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!

    1. theonlycin says:

      I love your blog, Preeva!

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