Jeanne Horak-Druiff is a born and bred South African who has been living permanently in London since 2002. Her internationally recognised blog CookSister! was named as one of the Times Online's Top 50 Food Blogs In the World and is also a four-time winner of the Best South African Food Blog category in the South African Blog Awards. Her writing has been published in National Geographic’s 500 Food Journeys and 500 Secret Journeys, and Foodies of the World, as well as various magazines. She is also a regular speaker at blogging workshops and conferences in Europe and South Africa. Her blog grew out of a weekly newsletter home to friends and family but now encompasses her three obsessions: food, travel and photography. When she grows up, she wants a job in food writing.
I have never been on any formal diet, other than the ‘Oo-er, must cut down on the pizza, can't fit into my jeans any more!’ variety.
Where and what did you eat last night?
You caught me on a bad night! I have been at home with laryngitis feeling very sorry for myself for the past five days so I made some comfort food: pasta with a garlicky tomato and zucchini sauce (which also happens to be one of hubby's favourites).
Are there any food trends that you are currently obsessed with?
I am slightly bemused by the very existence of food trends – particularly the fixation with something as specific as one single item (hamburgers, macaroons, cupcakes). I go through phases of being in love with a particular cuisine – Mexican or Szechuan food – but I really don't do obsession with specific trends. I think that classic dishes became classics for a reason and given a choice I will often opt for well-executed classics rather than the latest fad.
If you could choose to be the guest at any chef’s dinner party who would it be?
Seeing that this is a fantasy question, I would choose the late great Keith Floyd. The footage of him cooking seafood on a rocking boat off the coast of South Africa in Floyd on Africa, wine sloshing everywhere, made me wish more than anything to join him on that boat. His style of hospitality under the influence is one I aspire to, and his recipes aren't half bad either.
What’s your signature dish?
That depends on whom you ask. Most people would say boerewors & butternut risotto; my friend Rory would say my seven layer salad; but my decadent chocolate sauce using a full 300g of chocolate as well as cream and sherry was my dad's favourite.
What kind of eater are you?
I am definitely not an emotional eater, nor a binge eater. My husband eats just for fuel and I can honestly say that there is no resemblance to me there. I would say I am a slow and steady eater. I am always the last at the table to finish, but I savour every mouthful. There is nothing I hate more than a disrupted meal.
When you are not eating, blogging or thinking about where you are going to eat and blog about next, what do you like to do?
I love photography and not a day goes by that I do not take photos with my Canon EOD 50D – food, people, landscapes, you name it. I also love travelling as much as possible and (to most of my friends' surprise) I am a late and very enthusiastic convert to skiing.
What’s the strangest thing you have ever eaten in a foreign country?
Sheep's tails hot off the barbecue in South Africa. They are absolutely addictive – crispy, fatty and lamby!
Is there anything that you will not try on a menu?
I try not to eat anything that is endangered and I very much doubt I will ever be an eater of insects. I am not a huge fan of offal (outside of liver, kidneys and bone marrow) – heart, lung, tripe and trotters are unlikely to tempt me. But my biggest menu no-no is... the dreaded banana. Shudder.
Have you ever tried any extreme diets?
No, in fact I have never been on any formal diet, other than the ‘Oo-er, must cut down on the pizza, can't fit into my jeans any more!’ variety. I love food way too much to go on an extreme diet and besides, once you come off the diet and re-enter normal life, the pounds come piling back, and they often bring along some friends.
Which food blogs do you follow religiously?
Too many to mention and I wish I had time to follow more! But some of my daily reads would have to include SpittoonExtra, What's for Lunch, Honey?, Eggs on the Roof, Life's a Feast, Lucullian Delights, Gourmande in the Kitchen, Jenn Cuisine and Gourmet Chick.