Num Num

eat. cook. write.

May 18, 2012

A Book deal with a side of sweet potato

Shock and horror.
I’ve been a bad blogger.
but I do at least have a book deal! 

(This photo is not really relevant to anything in this post, I just put it here because photos are nice. However, it will come into the story later.)
Yes. Despite the fact that this is meant to be my year of writing (that is indeed a part of what I’m studying) and despite the fact that it’s compulsory for me to blog every week for my course; I have left my poor little blackpepperplum to ferment in the back of a dark cupboard, just like the sweet potato we now have sprouting roots and feelers because nobody remembered to cook it. I am planning on planting it this weekend. Just like I am planning to blog more often.

In fact, the sweet potato with feelers is just the perfect metaphor for my life. This blog is the sweet potato, once fresh and budding with potential. It is currently in a stagnant stage. It’s on hold. Why? The cook has found other things to fry. Yes, by frying I mean writing. (I am getting heavily involved in my metaphors here, please just oblige me).

The thing that I am writing is a cookbook for students.

Its name is Yum-mo: Student Cooking 101.

(I am silly pleased about this, you have no idea) 

This is the story of how it came to be: 
Last year I used to cook for my digsmates, and sometimes I told them fun facts about food and showed them how to chop vegetables. I also let them borrow my chef’s knife. Someone once said: “Carina you should write a cookbook for students”. I don’t even remember who, I just buried the idea in my mind underneath the Trobriand Islanders, critical media theory, and Afrikaans literature.

Then, when I was private cheffing in December, the idea stuck with me again. I started to toy with it here and there. I did a bit of research into how this whole publishing things works and then I went “pfffttt, this does not even look like a remotely feasible possibility”. 

THEN a yellowtail came along and changed my whole life. A big yellowtail.
I cooked it on the braai with delicious fillings, and served it with a summery vinaigrette. The meat was soft and succulent, it was quite the perfect fish. THEN, the family I cooked for said, “Ooh, Carina, this fish is delicious, but it’s so big, we can’t even make a dent in it. Please can we have it for lunch?”

I saw a gap. I said “yes, of course, but it’s my Aunt Hanna’s Birthday picnic tomorrow in Stellenbosch. Would you mind if I prepared the fish salad in advance so that I can attend her birthday?” And they said, “of course! Go and have fun”.

And then I went. And there I sat chatting to my sister and aunt about this idea of mine, when my aunt’s friend said he was interested in hearing about my idea. So I drank some more wine, and I told him. He liked the idea a lot, and since he has published two books himself, and used to work for Media 24, he said he would try find out who to speak to.

And he did. And I bit my fingernails a lot, and I wrote a pitch. And they liked it. Now I have a contract with Human and Rousseau, a very respectable publishing house. I have to submit a manuscript by 31 October.

The end.

So, you can understand why the sweet potato passed by unnoticed? Since my Yum-mo project began, my life has been a swirl of cooking and writing recipes, calling up friends to try things. Burning things. Making some things seven times. Selecting photographers, trying to explain to designers what I want when I really have only a smidgeon of an idea. Having photo shoots. And photo crits. And attending university at the same time. The assignments, essays and readings must go on.

The cool thing about my sweet potato is that it never went rotten. It just carried on growing all by itself, unnoticed, modest.

After I plant my sweet potato, I am going to start a whole new veggie garden in the form of a new website at I'm also twittering it up under the handle @yum_mo. But more about that later. Enough metaphorical speech!

(Time to water the plants).

The relevance of these pictures are that they were just random picks from one of my photo trials.  They're by Chris de Beer, and yes, she got the job. 

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