Magazines contribute immensely to the development of a nation's distinctive cuisine.

Read about the South African magazines and food editors that helped to create and pin down our cuisine.

Be My Guest

Fay Lewis

Is it possible for books to radiate ambience? Be My Guest, by Fay Lewis with photographs by Neil Corder, proves that it can happen.

Fay Lewis and Neil Corder used their considerable talent, and flair for food styling, to produce a book that takes it's reader on a culinary journey through South Africa: brunch on the beach, a cocktail party with Table Mountain as backdrop, a grand dinner in a very stylish dinning room, a braai (barbeque party) under the Bushveld's starry sky, a picnic in a grassy garden, even a buffet meal in the forest.

Little imagination was required on our part to not only experience the flavours of the colourful dishes, but also to hear and smell - to experience - the great outdoors of South Africa. Be My Guest brings back fond memories for expats, and stir up curiosity in the hearts of friends who have not been to South Africa yet.

We then embarked on a second journey through the book: discovering Fay Lewis' beautiful recipes.

The book is divided into food for brunch, spring lunch, grilling party (braai), pool party, picnic, tea party, retro party, festive celebration, buffet party, midweek family dinner, and a red, white and green party.

The recipes combine fresh tastes and full flavours with beautiful colours and textures.

You will recognise a few favourites, such as sweet potato mash and curried lamb potjie (with the Fay Lewis touch throughout) and will find a number of very interesting variations, such as chocolate-filled French toast and grilled fish with coriander. Perfect fare for lovers of fusion cooking.

A number of traditional recipes were altered to cater for dairy free diets. One example is the recipe for the "braai-broodjie" (barbeque sandwich): a tomato and onion sandwich, roasted over the coals and often served with chutney. Traditionally, we would add cheese to the sandwich, but in this case it was omitted to cater for people with lactose-free dietary requirements - at the same time creating a new twist on an essential part of the South African braai.

For us, who regularly adjust recipes to cut out preservatives and additives, or sometimes ingredients when we cook for friends with food intolerances (such as lactose intolerance or gluten intolerance), it was very interesting to see the care taken by the author to present delicious, good tasting and healthy food without any fuss.

The third and equally valuable aspect of Be My Guest is the advice it provides on entertainment, serving styles, dinnerware and cutlery, and lots of inspiration for décor. In fact, each chapter contains one or two pages with beautiful photographs of décor that will help inspire your own setting.

As you can imagine, it didn't take long before we tried out one or two recipes: the balsamic strawberries (an old favourite) and broccoli with walnut dressing (something completely new to us), and we can hardly wait to try the promising nectarine and cinnamon picnic cakes, and the white chocolate cake with dark chocolate glaze.

Be My Guest, by Fay Lewis with photographs by Neil Corder, consist of 224 delightful pages.

In addition to its creative South African recipes and sections on successful entertaining, it's beautiful design and photography makes it a desirable addition to your coffee table collection.

This book is a feast for the eye, stomach and heart, and we recommend it highly.