Melissa Mpofu, Showbiz Editor
So the other day, a friend of mine who knows how much I love food, sent me an invitation to join a group of women like me who enjoy cooking, on Facebook.
Being the foodie that I am, I did not turn down that invite to be part of Cooking with Zim Celebrity Chef. Interesting group it was. It was just women sharing their recipes as well as first attempts on cooking various dishes, baking bread, scones and cakes as well as making pastries.
Great platform it was considering that people were on lockdown and unable to frequent shops to buy basics like bread. So I followed closely as I was also keen to learn and put to action some of the skills
learnt because all my favourite restaurants were closed then.
However, there are people on the longest holiday ever who like me, love junk food. My young brother who is gaining weight at an alarming rate, loves his pizza so I suggested that we make our own after seeing the one that had been made by popular makeup artiste, Praise “Pue Pue” Ncube.
But then, there was a problem, we did not have one of the main ingredients – cheese and we were really not in the mood of leaving the house to go and buy it.
Since he was missing his favourite pizza, he decided to order in and it was very expensive. However, that was to be the least of my worries because when the order arrived, it was clear it lacked a lot of ingredients just by looking at it.
And indeed, after a few bites, I swore never to buy pizza again as I really felt short-changed. It tasted like some vegetarian pizza yet this was a deluxe pizza. Then on another day, my dad treated us to Chicken Inn.
This was during a time when not many shops were open, when people were still taking the lockdown seriously and not milling around town the way they are now, so this treat was special.
My kid brother and I were very thrilled till we took the first bite of the chicken. Not again, I simply said to myself. The chicken was quite bland and certainly, another waste of money that was. For the first time, the chips from this particular outlet tasted better than the chicken, which should not have been the case as their speciality is chicken.
During this whole lockdown, the only “worth it” takeaway I have had is a pie from the place all people from Bulawayo love. That one right there is the only thing that, despite it being pricey, is a takeaway still worth buying as the pies are still very meaty and fresh.
Oh, then there are hot chips from another favourite Bulawayo joint, although their meat, be it sausage or chicken, I would not recommend people to buy. Afterall, they are famous for their chips so maybe they should just stick to that or perhaps bring back their liver. That was one nice treat.
So, after my not so nice experiences with the pizza and chicken from that other outlet, I decided to quit buying takeaways, well for as long as I am on lockdown and have easy access to the stove at home, and hopefully the ingredients too.
My brother who hopes to open a restaurant in Hillside one day, after being disappointed by the takeaways, has been on top of the situation, searching for new recipes on the Internet and not hesitating trying them out. Some have been a success like his Meat Loaf, Custard Cake and Madeira Cake while some like Amagwinya, chocolate glaze whose ingredients he did not read properly and chocolate cake which he burnt after miscalculating the heat, have been flops.
But all in all, considering that he has never been trained professionally to do this cooking/baking thing, he is coming up very well and may just be able to open his dream café/restaurant one day.
He is not the only one who has taken this passion for cooking to another level as former model, Lorraine Maphala-Phiri, after realising she could not keep up with her two kids love for junk food, decided that they would, instead of buying from restaurants, make their favourite foods at home.
She said the biggest advantage of doing this, other than obviously cutting costs, was that it is a good way for her to bond with the kids.
“I personally think it’s the best way to get your kids to eat while bonding with them at the same time. I love cooking for them and cooking their favourite dishes which one typically gets at restaurants, is healthier too.
“The only disadvantage is when they want to do it every day (it’s a lot of work,” said the beauty.
Maphala-Phiri said the kids’ favourite dishes are burgers and chicken wraps as well as baked products, whose preparation they have mastered.
Pue Pue, who constantly posts her recipes and pictures of the dishes she would have made on the Cooking with Zim Celebrity Chef Facebook page said the lockdown had made people realise that there is not much need to patronise restaurants as people can make their own favourite dishes at home.
“So lockdown has made people try out a lot of recipes because they have all the time they need. Being at home 24-hours a day made them realise that there’s no dish that cannot be done especially when it’s done by human beings in restaurants.
“I really think being on lockdown was a blessing in disguise honestly because people can now make bread, pizza, dumplings, mabhanzi and umxhangxa which they used to eat made by their parents. Now they can make their own,” said Pue Pue.
She said sadly, some who would have wanted to join in on the cooking experience have been limited by the lack of adequate ingredients.
“The challenge though for some is that they’re not working and have run out of foodstuff or ingredients.”
Other than making women beautiful by doing their faces, Pue Pue said she enjoys imparting her cooking skills to them. She said she has also benefited immensely from the Facebook group as it has women from different countries so she is also learning how to make dishes from West African countries.
“Cooking with Zim Celebrity Chef has taught me how to make dishes from different countries as the people share their recipes and videos on how to make a meal. Also, there’s another group called Abby’s Plates where she teaches ladies on how to cook.”
Just like my kid brother, Pue Pue said some of the meals have not been as easy as reading the recipe to prepare, as they have been quite challenging.
“To be honest, some have been challenging especially the bread recipe. For me to get it right, I had to do it three times. But, I generally loved the experience and the mistakes have taught me to do better next time,” she said.
In neighbouring South Africa, DJ Tira’s wife, Gugu Khathi from time to time posts videos of her children sharing their cooking skills and recipes.