Home Lifestyle Mzansi Flavour ‘Food connects, food is love, food is community’

‘Food connects, food is love, food is community’

Food holds the power to gather people beyond their respective borders, believes Dianne Bibby

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Food has the innate ability to connect souls, believes cookbook author Dianne Bibby. Food is a universal language, says the 52-year-old Johannesburg native who is also a food stylist and blogger 

Bibby has travelled far and wide to explore a vast array of vibrant food styles from across the globe. This journey is depicted through her cookbook, Bibby’s Kitchen, the Essence of Good Food. 

“It’s far bigger than just eating a plate of food. (Food) really is a vehicle for connecting people, it’s relational,” she says. 

The author considers home cooking to be a relatable art. It allows the freedom to explore one’s creativity and the basics of what professional kitchens do at a higher level, she says. 

“It’s just (making) really good, honest food, using solid methods.” 

While many cooks relate their passion for food back to their families, Bibby’s passion stems from the globe.

She admits that she does not come from a family of cooks and chefs, most of what she has experienced comes from her international travels. These food adventures allowed her to tap into her love of food. 

“I must say, growing up I didn’t cook much or bake at all. I ate a lot, yes,” she laughs.

“I wasn’t from a food family where everything revolved around food. We always ate home cooked food and very basic food. I think possibly when I travelled by the time I was 21 and living on the kibbutz (in Isreael), was the first time I was exposed to different kinds of food experiences and cultures.” 

There is something magical about food, Bibby believes. Every time she travels overseas, she has the opportunity to gain a new food experience. She fondly remembers a trip to Bologna in Italy, which houses some of the best food markets in the world.  

“You can forage your own food there and just standing on the side of the road picking figs in the morning is bliss,” she recalls 

Bibby treasures all her food adventures. Her best advice to other global culinary explorers is to always look for the best food markets. 

“It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, there are always those one-time food experiences that make a trip worth it. You get to experience something that someone else does every day, but for you the first time is like a revelation,” she adds.  

Her travels have solidified that sense of community in food she says.  

“In Bologna you go to a food market and they have got these tiny little packed alleys. In the evening those streets are filled with people that are sitting side by side. These are people from all over the world. You realize we’re there for a common thing and that is to eat and that food takes down all those barriers.” 

Bibby’s passions for food travel are embodied in her cookbook. The book takes readers on a journey across the Mediterranean Sea, from the Middle East to Europe. The inspiration lies in her personal experiences with food that started at the age of 21.  

“There are so many things that influence you along the way,” Bibby says. 

“I think everybody wants to experience the world and if you can do that in food, I think that is quite am incredible thing.” 

“If you want to be in food, you really have to love cooking more than you value sleep.” 

Bibby is a trained fashion designer and worked in the industry for 20 years. The birth of her daughters saw her channel her creativity more into food.  

“It’s really incredible,” she saysjoyfully. 

“Food is just a different form of creating, it’s not that different from fashion. It is taking concepts and working with them and interpreting them in your own way and your own fashion.” 

Time will yield great reward for those looking to make it in the culinary industry, she advises.  

“If you want to be in food, you really have to love cooking more than you value sleep.”  

Commitment is the key to culinary success. “You will stick with food only if you really love it. The theory of ten thousand hours (that it takes that much deliberate practice to gain proficiency in a skillholds truth here, you really just have to put in the time to experiment and keep cooking!” 

Noluthando Ngcakani
Noluthando Ngcakani
With roots in the Northern Cape, this Kimberley Diamond has had a passion for telling human interest stories since she could speak her first words. A foodie by heart, she began her journalistic career as an intern at the SABC where she discovered her love for telling agricultural, community and nature related stories. Not a stranger to a challenge Ngcakani will go above and beyond to tell your truth.
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