Recipes East and West (South Africa, 1950s)


by the International Club, no publisher, no copyright date. Paperback, stapled 52 page booklet. Vintage South Africa International Recipe Cookbook.>p> An astounding, one-of-a-kind cookbook, and a peak into the apartheid, colonial past! It offers international recipes collected by The Club, European expats living on the Indian Ocean beach city of Durban, located in the province of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. There’s no copyright date, but from experience we can tell by the typeface and layout that this is probably from the early ‘60s. Maybe late ‘50s. Definitely mid-century modern.

Here’s another way we dated the booklet – the phone numbers in the advertisements for local retailers have no area codes, and have only five digits. So publication is no later than the early '60s.

Let’s start with the countries whose recipes are represented, beginning with South Africa itself. Oddly, there are none by the African people indigenous to that vast nation. Instead, many of the local recipes represented, say its authors, are actually of Malaysian origin, since the cooking in 17th. century Colonial times was in the hands of (and here we quote) “the trusted Malay slave.” Durban, at that time, was still called “the Curry Capital of South Africa,” due to its high population of Asian Indians, who originally came to work in the sugar cane fields. Favorites such as Boeboetie (meat and almond curry) abound.

There are tons of recipes from China (which seem more of Indonesian origin to us), India, Kashmir, Italy, Portugal, Spain, France, Netherlands, Scandinavia, Germany, Poland, the U.S. There are also what are called “Jewish recipes.” There’s also one or two from Bulgaria, Czechoslavia, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Russia, the Ukraine and Turkey.

“British recipes,” the introduction explains, “have been omitted as they are available in many cookery books.” Slight staining on some pages. Rare. VG.

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