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Your fave local foodies share their festive traditions

From peppermint tarts and trifles and a yearly tradition of caramel in a can, read on to see what quirky traditions our food-fluencers indulge in. 

Editor Chad January sits down with some of our favourite foodies to get a taste of what their festive traditions are, and how they’ll be spending it with their loved ones. 

Sinoyolo Sifo

“Each year, my siblings and I travel back home to my father’s house in Mthatha,” shares foodie and cookbook author Sinoyolo Sifo, also known as ‘The Cooking Husband’. It’s something both he and his wife look forward to, since he doesn’t get the chance to see extended family during the year. “I love being able to cook for my family, show off my culinary skills and get a chance to catch up and reflect”, he says.

For this meat and braai-loving family, Christmas Day won’t be complete without some kind of fire cooking. “One of our biggest family traditions is having my father slaughter a cow or sheep, which we then prepare into the most fantastic feast with aromas that fill the air,” says Sinoyolo. And this year? He just can’t wait to be home again. 

Mmule Setati

With a cookbook named Feed My Tribe, it’s no surprise that time with family means a lot to Mmule Setati. She and her husband both come from large families, so they alternate visiting different branches each year.

“Christmas Day always starts off with a light breakfast that we enjoy leisurely, before tackling the preparations for the festive feast. A typical menu would consist of gammon, crispy roast chicken, lamb and prawn curry (the family favourite). On the side, there’s some coconut rice, summer salads, charred and wilted greens and, of course, the crispiest roast potatoes. To end it off with something sweet, I prefer a simple ice cream or a good glass of champagne as opposed to the traditional trifle, which is not a favourite of mine,” laughs Mmule.

This year, she’s simply grateful for the privilege of being surrounded by the ones she loves and cares about. 

Sebastian Newman

Chef Sebastian Newman has been in charge of Christmas dessert from a very young age. Known for his stellar bakes on social media, the aspiring chef would whip up everything from peppermint tart and trifle to his favourite bake – Cremora tart.   

“Every celebration with my family is always accompanied by copious amounts of delicious food. Christmas Day is, of course, no different!” he laughs.  

He remembers waking up to the sound of Boney M. and the aroma of roasting gammon and potatoes every Christmas morning. But first, coffee and koesisters! “It always started with that tradition, followed by frantic cooking! My dad loves fishing, so our starter would always be seafood.  

Christmas has looked a little different in recent years because we’ve lost some loved ones, but keeping their memory alive by keeping our traditions, sharing food and celebrating with one another is what keeps us going.” 

Caro Alberts

If you’ve tuned into SABC 2 and watched the show Koskaskenades, then you would’ve seen the friendly face of host Caro Alberts – a well-known SA foodie and brilliant food stylist who works with a number of local as well as international brands.  

“Christmas, for me, is mainly about being surrounded by the people that I hold closest to my heart and celebrating our faith together” she shares. Her family gets together on Christmas every year and everyone is involved in the cooking.  

“I’m not that traditional when it comes to festive meals, so I love to try new and exciting flavours and cooking methods. My mom, on the other hand, keeps it simple and loves a good gammon, tongue with sticky mustard sauce and a classic trifle. There’s always a variety of flavours and our table looks completely different each year,” Caro says.  

The whole family loves to braai, so expect anything from a smoked chicken or pork belly to roosterkoek and charred veggies. “Every year my mom makes a can of caramel or Dulce de leche, if you’re feeling fancy.  

She simmers a can of condensed milk in a pot of water for 3 to 4 hours. She makes one can for each family member, but we still fight over those half-eaten cans,” she laughs. 

Words by: Chad January
Photographs: Supplied 

Also read: 5 festive roasts to feast on

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