April 3, 2020

Another week at my table




It’s been a week since lockdown in South Africa. An interesting one, and yes, a lot has happened at my family table. The puzzle of Times Square in New York is the one way in which I can propel myself to other places, the other is by reading. I am currently immersed in ‘The Little Book of Lykke’, written by the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, the capital of happiness. Meik Wiking also wrote ‘The Little book of Hygge’, which was given to me for my birthday last year, part of the inspiration that fuelled my determination to visit Denmark. The second reason? My ancestors (there is a little Viking in me), and the third, a booking at Noma, now cancelled and back to being a distant dream.

Lykke (pronounced luu-kah), means happiness. As I started to read about unlocking the doors to the good life, I realised that the positives of lockdown are doing just that. I have learnt valuable lessons this week. How do we distinguish between being happy now, and being happy overall? These two states, Wiking says, are known as affective dimension and cognitive dimension. The third is eudaimonia, based on Aristotle’s understanding of the word. To him, a good life was based on meaning and purpose. 


My work provides a sense of purpose. I am one of those strange people who gets excited on a Sunday evening about the week of work ahead. Admittedly my work often feels like play, so I do take time to be grateful for that, and for the motivated, talented people with whom I work. This week saw us, with alarming speed and purpose, finalise our online food-writing course. Not only can we upskill people, but we can help them have focus, create a routine, have stimulating interaction and ultimately, when we are busy, we can create employment for other freelancers. We will create our own tribe of scribes. To be part of a community, creates happiness.

Wiking also talks about togetherness in his book, often seen with rituals like food and fire (think chop on the braai). He includes a chart showing what percentage of people believe they can truly rely on their friends in a time of need, in different countries. South Africa hit 89,5%. He asks, how many of your neighbours can you count as friends? I have connected to four of mine this week, two on the telephone, others with loud conversations in the distance. It’s refreshing to hear the background noise of children playing, dogs barking, and birds chirping. Happy sounds, all of them. The happiest was the sound of loud applause last night at 8pm when essential services drove past with their lights flashing, so that we could show our appreciation for how they put their lives at risk, for us, daily.


May you take the next week to stay safe, healthy and making every effort to be happy in your homes. Here are three examples of how our partners, some chefs and suppliers are being innovative:


ABALOBI have activated a home-delivery system, taking fish straight from the fishermen to the home cook. This week has seen close to 1000 registrations. The service has been successful and greatly appreciated, especially as you can engage with the story of your fish from hook to your home. Some top chefs have uploaded videos onto the ABALOBI site showing you how to fillet your fish. Visit their website and follow them on Instagram @abalobi_app.


Franschhoek is where chefs like Chris Erasmus, Darren Badenhorst and others are cooking a daily, hot meal for local households as part of their contribution to the Franschhoek Disaster Management efforts, supported by Pick n Pay, plus making parcels for 500 homes to be delivered every other day. We urge you to support them, every bit helps. Follow them on Facebook and find out how you can help @FHKDM.


Dineplan has launched an additional function to their well-loved booking app. The public are encouraged to purchase vouchers for their favourite restaurants to assist them with cash flow during this time of hardship. It is free for restaurants to use, and the vouchers you buy are valid for three years. www.voucherplan.co.za.


Many chefs are sharing recipes and videos to keep us inspired as we cook at home. There are also many recipes in our autumn issue of the Gourmet Guide online magazine for you to try in your kitchen at home. Replicate a dish, tag us on Instagram (jhp_gourmet_guide) and you could be featured on our page.

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