Naturally Zimbabwean interviewed Sarah Graham, a celebrated Zimbabwean cook, food writer and TV show host who is based in South-Africa.

Sarah’s food philosophy is built on sharing beautiful, simple, healthy food with family and friends. She started her food blog: A Foodie Lives Here, in 2010 and it was so successful that she was awarded a cook book contract by Penguin RandomHouse. Sarah has since published three best-selling cook books and filmed two cooking shows which have aired both in South Africa and internationally, including the United States. The most recent of these was Sarah Graham’s Food Safari which aired on DSTV in a prime time slot over the Christmas holidays from November 2015 through January 2016. Sarah is currently writing her fourth cook book and planning another season of Food Safari which will be filmed in East Africa in late 2016. Read more about Sarah on her blog (http://afoodieliveshere.co.za/about/)

Sarah told us how it all started:

“I proudly and happily grew up in Zimbabwe, it’s still home in my heart, and I visit as often as I can. My parents have a small wildlife conservancy where they are doing some amazing work with lion conservation. It’s a small slice of very precious paradise…

I’ve loved eating for as long as I can remember, and grew up with beautiful, simple, healthy farm-style food, and meal times with tables full of friends and family. I love how food brings people together, and my food philosophy is very much built on all of this.

Living in the bush meant we ate simple, humble food, but it was always delicious. I wanted to share some of those recipes with viewers, as well as more of an insight into my life, where I grew up, how we grew up, and the wildlife that was the backdrop of our lives. I wanted to share some of the beautiful corners of Africa that I grew up exploring, and the food that goes with those places. Our production company, Okuhle Media, are a team of creatives from Cape Town who loved the idea and moved mountains to make it all happen.”

The challenges of cooking on safari

We asked Sarah about the practical challenges she faced in cooking on safari in terms of sourcing ingredients, preserving the food and actually cooking?

“Huge! We were in some very remote places, such as Chundu Island upstream from the Victoria Falls, so we had to be really organised. We had a big overland truck that moved our crew and kit around, and as Food Lover’s Market were one of our main sponsors they helped a lot with sourcing ingredients which we collected from their main branches en route to wherever we were going.

Arriving at Chundu Island on day one of our seven-week trip, in the dark, with our overland truck having got stuck in the Zambezi National Park and having to re-route. We eventually finished unpacking and transferring our gear across the Zambezi River to the Island at about 12.30am, went to bed and started shooting at 7am. Not one of the team complained, it was an amazing experience to see everyone pull together. On another occasion, we were filming at Antelope Park and our orphaned elephants came through the bush to see what we were up to. They smelt the citrus fruit on the overland truck and made a beeline for it, the crew scattered helter skelter, including under the truck, and it was absolutely chaos for a few minutes until the handlers managed to move them on. Wild!”

We asked Sarah to tell us about her your favourite foods for outdoor cooking and why. “Just simple foods, and I love venison”.  She went on to explain how she tries to make local African foods more palatable to an international audience “by building them into simple recipes that are widely appreciated, such as Goat Stew with Dumplings, Warthog Steaks with caramelised apples, Chicken Liversy with fiery chilli and paprika sauce”. These recipes and more can be found on her website http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes.html.

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Anna Brazier

Anna Brazier is the editor of Naturally Zimbabwean. She was born in Zambia but has lived most of her life in Zimbabwe. She has a BSc in Ecology and an MSc in Sustainable Development and works as a consultant promoting sustainable agriculture, nutrition, traditional foods and community resilience in Africa and beyond. She lives in Harare with her husband and three children.