Beautifully written article from this gorgeous, informed young woman. Thank you so much, Danielle 💟
By Danielle Naidoo
Rhodes University, 27 August 2017
“This woman is the coolest” – is honestly what my first thought was as I began listening to what she had to say.
Cindy Phillips Taylor sat posed in her antiquarian armchair with her hands neatly placed on her lap. The softly-tuned music in the background is interrupted when her jet-black puppy sprints into the room. After multiple efforts, she succeeds in keeping the dog out of the house. Taylor gracefully reassumes her position in the armchair and says, “The most radical thing you can do in a corrupt government is grow your own food.”
Taylor is a food philosopher and writer who is currently working on a few novels. For Taylor, the art of cooking and baking is nothing new. Now she is sharing her expertise with people across Grahamstown through her business, The Only Cin. Upon a first meeting with her, she has a subtle way of capturing not only one’s attention, but their heart as well. One would find it difficult not to cling on to every bit of wisdom that she has to share. Taylor offers food workshops on a weekly basis in her home. The workshops range from food history to date night food tutorials and even recycling workshops. Taylor also shows students how to stretch their budget and make the most out of each ingredient. Her philosophy can easily be projected onto students as she says, “There is a chain franchise horror that’s feeding our young people because they don’t know what else to eat.” A statement that is highly applicable to a majority of people today – takeout seems to always appear as the best option. Taylor’s constant food experiments and ideas are available on all of her social media accounts, making her knowledge and advice accessible to a variety of people.
In the midst of her cosy lounge, the thick smell of a vanilla candle settles around the room. Taylor says she has been a foodie from the time she was little. Her interest in food stems from her family. Suddenly she sat upright, with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye she said, “Food was a big thing when I was growing up because we didn’t have restaurants in those days. A good meal at home with family was what everyone looked forward to.” Seemingly deep in thought, she leaned forward and stared at the wall in front of her. Running her fingers over her chunky beaded necklace, she shared a little memory from her childhood. “My father grew competition carnations and I didn’t know, and I picked all the carnations to decorate my mud cakes when I played outside.”
Her warm aura can be felt from the moment one is in her presence, and her care undoubtedly extends into all of her food.
Before she became a writer, Taylor used to work in a hotel kitchen. She then got into advertising, until the internet became popular. Taylor then took to social media and began writing food blogs ten years ago. In addition to this she also ghost writes for specific others. She only recently moved to Grahamstown in October last year.
Material representations of her character linger on every wall and in every corner of her home. From little ornaments placed strategically on the shelf to stunning artwork hung neatly on the wall, Taylor has done well in representing herself through her home. A woven basket containing an abundance of CDs sits in front of the fireplace. Her monthly garbage can fit into just one standard size paper bag which sits proudly at her kitchen door. Colourful pots and cutlery fill every crevice of her kitchen and glass bottles are lined up by the sink – all without one plastic bottle in sight. Taylor strides across the room in her high waisted pants to show off her herb garden which she “eats out of.” Taylor can be seen as a perfect example of one who does more than she says. As much as we educate ourselves about eating healthily or living sustainably, majority of us never get around to actually practicing what we preach.
Her pale, slender fingers hold three silver rings in place. She pensively twirls one of the rings as she says, “It takes as much time to eat ugly as it does to eat beautifully.” Her philosophy and approach to ‘eating clean’ (especially on a budget) is one that can be implemented across various platforms – particularly amongst students.
Taylor sums up her philosophy with an Alice Waters quote, “I believe that how you eat, and how you choose your food, is an act which combines the political – your place in the world of other people – with the most intensely personal – the way you use your mind and your senses, together, for the gratification of your soul.”
I found myself immediately drawn in by everything she had to share with me. The way in which she spoke of her memories, her beliefs and her love for food had captured me in the short amount of time that I sat in her living room.