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Celebrating Stone Fruits: The Heart of Mzansi's Festive Flavors

Published December 27, 2023
7 months ago

In the heart of Mzansi's rich culinary traditions, stone fruits emerge as symbols of both heritage and the festive spirit. Renowned plant-based chef and devoted food activist, Mokgadi Itsweng, has long held these fruits - peaches, nectarines, and plums - in high regard, both as a treat for the sweet tooth and an anchor in South Africa’s gastronomic practices.

The significance of stone fruits extends beyond the holiday tables and into the realm of sustainable food advocacy. Itsweng's commitment to plant-based cuisine and indigenous produce found an international platform at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, hosted in Dubai, UAE. Through her Lotsha Green Kitchen, Itsweng showcased delectable South African dishes, demonstrating the global appeal of locally influenced, environmentally conscious food.

Shifting from the global stage to her personal story, Itsweng's reflections paint a vivid picture of her food journey's beginnings – rooted in her family's history in Mamelodi, where food was a symbol of community and tradition. Drawing inspiration from her grandmothers, one a hotel cook and the other an indigenous farmer, and her parents, who were pillars of community leadership, Itsweng’s culinary path was paved early on. Despite not following a professional cooking career initially, her eventual pivot into the culinary arts seemed almost predestined - especially after her inaugural endeavor with Woolworths solidified her place in the culinary scene.

Stone fruits, with their natural sweetness and succulence, are an embodiment of Mzansi's edible landscape, according to Itsweng. She eagerly shares tips on enhancing their flavors, such as grilling to caramelize the fruits' natural sugars. Her storage advice further underscores her attention to preserving quality and taste, such as chilling ripe fruits or letting them ripen at room temperature. Additionally, Itsweng nods to traditional preservation methods like canning, which sustain these flavors beyond their season.

In sharing her story and expertise, Itsweng continues to advocate for the inclusion of indigenous foods at South African tables and beyond. Her example not only preserves culinary traditions but also aligns with contemporary movements towards sustainable and plant-based diets - a harmonious blend of honoring the past and adapting for a healthier future.

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