Mma Ramotswe's Cookbook by Stuart Brown

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Mma Ramotswe's Cookbook by Stuart Brown

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Category: Cookery
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: A flavoursome guide to the traditional food and recipes of Botswana, all wrapped together with quotes and comments about Mma Ramotswe and her friends.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 144 Date: November 2009
Publisher: Polygon
ISBN: 978-1846971396

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I expect there will be a few people who spot this book on the shelves and wonder who Mma Ramotswe is, but Alexander McCall Smith's legion of fans certainly won't be amongst them. This cookbook is a nice tie-in to the books, written with a foreword from AMS himself, and full of flavoursome recipes that are spoken of in his series of books about Mma Ramotswe and her Number One Ladies Detective Agency. Illustrated with beautiful photography, lots of quotes from the books, and lots of information about Botswana's rich variety of food it's a wonderful mix of being both a cookery book, a reference book and a companion work to the Mma Ramostwe books.

The quotes chosen from the books are all pertinent, and show just how much AMS refers to food (and tea!) throughout his stories. I really enjoyed reading about the traditional foods of Botswana, such as all the unusual (to me) fruits and their different uses or information about Mopane worms alongside of a Mopane worm stew recipe! Some of the recipes aren't really possible to recreate here in the UK (I don't think Tesco have any Mopane worms...) but it's nice to see them included as it makes a more authentic recipe book rather than something that has been simplified to cater for British tastes/supermarket stock. There are plenty of other recipes that I will be able to try.

Amongst the quotes, recipes and ingredient notes there are also bits of commentary about Mma Ramostwe and, for example, her feelings on dieting such as Mma Ramotswe strongly opposes, as quite wrong, the shape of self-neglect and starvation with which women in particular are force-fed by so-called 'fashion' and that dreadful thing 'consumerism'. I do like a book that seems to positively encourage me to have another slice of cake or a doughnut! These little additions scattered throughout the book certainly make it more of a reading experience than you usually get with a cookbook. However, I had thought, from the book's title, that things might be in Mma Ramotswe's own words rather than this commentary, and that there would have been her own funny asides concerning recipes and those who gave her the recipes, but then I suppose that would have required AMS to take a much larger role in the writing. Still, the whole thing hangs together well, referencing all the many characters in the books, and would make a nice gift for fans of the series.

I, personally, am looking forward to trying out some of the cake recipes. Most especially the persuasive fruitcake that Mma Potokwani so frequently uses to persuade Mr J.L.B. Maketoni to fix the orphan's water pump just one more time, or Mma Ramotswe to help out with a generous favour of some kind. My tummy always rumbles when I read about this famous fruit cake in the books, so I can't wait to have a good, thick slice sitting on my plate beside a nice, hot cup of tea.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: If you've no idea who Mma Ramotswe is then this is the place to start. I can't recommend it highly enough!

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Buy Mma Ramotswe's Cookbook by Stuart Brown at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mma Ramotswe's Cookbook by Stuart Brown at


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