The book, HumanEATies, topped the list in the B22 category, which recognises free books published by university presses.
Dr Heather Thuynsma, executive director of UP’s Emerging Scholars Initiative (ESI) Press, which published the book, recalls the team’s reaction upon hearing the news.
“The ESI Press team was on a team Zoom call when we found out that the book had won,” she says. “We could hardly believe it. Needless to say, everyone did a little happy dance at their desks!”
HumanEATies features 100 recipes that were submitted by members of UP’s Faculty of Humanities, and coincided with the centenary celebrations of the faculty, which turned 100 in 2019. However, it was delayed.
because of Covid-19 lockdown measures and was only launched in 2023. Though, as Dr Thuynsma points out, “the delay helped our staff to test and refine their recipes”.
The book reflects the range of food cultures in South Africa and, unlike a traditional recipe book, celebrates the lives of its contributors, who connect their recipes to their individual social and cultural heritage and, in some cases, interpret the technical and artistic skills that their preparation requires. HumanEATies showcases everything from morogo to biryani, sugar beans to lamb neck, vegan curries to venison and milk tart to kheer.
The book was conceived over breakfast by Professors Alecia Samuels and Juan Bornman of UP’s Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, who were celebrating a successful collaboration with German researchers. To show their gratitude, the researchers shared something from their own culture – traditional German Christmas cookies – which inspired a discussion about food and culture, and how it shapes our earliest memories, Bornman recalls.
Thuynsma adds: “Ultimately, this nostalgia reflects the histories and heritage that we as a country, and a faculty, share.
“This is because food, and the recipes that we produce with it, embody how we learn about ourselves and each other; the recipes travel in mysterious and sometimes circuitous ways, and are inevitably adapted to reflect new meanings and to create new associations.”
In true UP style, the project was transdisciplinary in nature.
“The Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, through Dr Hennie Fisher and his students at the Department of Consumer Food Sciences, helped us to standardise the measurements for each of the recipes,” Thuynsma explains.
“They also prepared the recipes for the photoshoot and catered for the book’s launch.”
For this project, the ESI Press team included postgraduate students Andrea du Toit, who managed the production process, and Danolien van den Berg, who designed the book and managed the creative process.
They worked alongside Thuynsma, chief designer Dr Stephen Symons, and Joanna Lombard and Dr Helena Kruger-Roux of the faculty’s Unit for Academic Literacy.
“This is certainly a win for everyone in the faculty who contributed to the book, and everyone who contributed in one way or another to its production,” Thuynsma says. “It’s also a very big deal for ESI Press, a publishing unit that works between the Humanities Faculty and the library’s digital scholarly services division.”