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Good times for the traditionally built. May 26, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. If, like me, you’re a fan of Alexander McCall Smith’s No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and its “traditionally built” heroine, Mma Precious Ramotswe, these are very good times.

Mr. McCall Smith has just come out with a new novel in the series, The Double Comfort Safari Club, and reviewers are all praising it as the best one yet. I just got my copy from Amazon yesterday, and am hoping that it contains larger roles for two of my favorite characters, Mma Potokwane, the redoubtable matron of the local orphanage and creator of the famous fruitcake, and Phuti Radiphuti, hapless proprietor of The Double Comfort Furniture Shop.

A new No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novel is always cause for rejoicing. But there’s more good news for cooking fanatics like yours truly: I discovered that there is now a cookbook accompanying the series, appropriately called Mma Ramotswe’s Cookbook: Nourishment for the traditionally built. (Alert readers may recall that about two years ago, I e-mailed Mr. McCall Smith and begged shamelessly that he write one.) 

As it turns out, the book is actually written by Stuart Brown, though it carries an introduction by Alexander McCall Smith and apparently features lots of gorgeous photos of Botswana and its life and culture as well as of the food. Here’s what Amazon has as the product description:

“Pull up a chair and join Mma Ramotswe at the table as she celebrates the flavours of the bestselling series ‘The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’. Discover the favourite recipes of our ‘traditionally built’ heroine and her friends, accompanied by lavish photography—sumptuous stews for sharing, fabulous fruit cakes for eating under shady trees, with redbush tea of course, and the spices, traditions and culture of Botswana that make every meal together special. Welcome Precious, her friends and the sunshine of Botswana into your kitchen. It offers a traditionally-built feast for all the senses!”

Needless to say, I ordered a copy immediately. What fun! Unfortunately, it’s shipping from Britain, and is expected to take up to two weeks to reach me. But I plan to make good use of the intervening time. I’ll finish The Double Comfort Safari Club. I’ll watch the TV series, also called “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” and based (sometimes rather loosely) on the books, again. And I’ll also watch the delightful documentary,  “Botswana: In the Footsteps of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency with Alexander McCall Smith,” again. It’s been too long since I’ve seen it. By the time the cookbook arrives, I’ll be ready for that cup of red bush tea.

If you want to join me in ordering a copy of the cookbook, better get a move on: Amazon has just 16 new copies available, and the used ones are way too pricey. Again, it’s Mma Ramotswe’s Cookbook by Stuart Brown (Polygon, hardcover, 144 pages, 2009, new from $20.14, used from $65.07 on Amazon).

Never fear, I’ll give you a reveiew (as opposed to a preview) once I’ve had a chance to check it out and (gulp) try a few of those recipes!

              ‘Til next time,



1. nancybond - May 26, 2010

I look forward to your review — I love cookbooks and could (and have) spend hours flipping through them. 😉

That’s the way I feel too, Nancy! I read cookbooks for recreation, and am confident this one will bring me plenty. I’ll let you know!

2. Elephant's Eye - May 26, 2010

Red bush tea in Botswana? Who knew? I know farmers grow most of it near us in Clanwilliam. Have you tried honeybush tea? I like to mix half good ceylon tea, with a quarter each of rooibos (red bush) and honeybush? (With milk, no sugar). I’m wondering, does the Californian chaparral produce a wild tea too?

Hmmm, Diana! I enjoy Ceylon tea (a favorite) and rooibos (red bush) tea. But I’ve never encountered honeybush tea. I never add sugar to my teas, I only have to add sugar to coffee to make it drinkable. (I do drink milk in tea as in coffee, though.) Now I’m looking forward to some good hot tea! Oops, forgot to answer your question. I don’t know about California, but we do have a Southwestern tea made from an indigenous shrub, Ephedra nevadensis. It’s made from the twigs and is called Mormon tea, popotillo, and many other things. The twigs are high in tannins so the tea is astringent, but it’s enjoyed in the Southwest. (I’ve never tried it, so I can’t attest to its flavor.) Unlike its relative ma huang, Mormon tea contains no ephedrines or pseudoephedrines.

3. entangled - May 27, 2010

I so admire the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency that I ration the books, saving them up to read when I need a mental lift. I’ve only read the first 5 and the rest are neatly stacked on the bookshelf, waiting for the right time.

But a cookbook? I can read those any time. 😉 I’ll definitely put that on my wish list, hoping there will still be copies available when I’m ready to buy.

Wow, you have far more self-control than I do, entangled! But my memory is so, um, porous that I can always start back at book one and enjoy the whole series over again!

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