Words of affirmation, receiving gifts, acts of service, quality time and physical touch. According to Dr Gary Chapman, the author of the New York Bestseller, The Five Love Languages, these are the ways in which humans express love and want to be loved in return.
But the author may have forgotten about a sixth, home cook and chartered accountant in training, Mahlodi Masipa (25) believes.
“Food is my love language,” the Pretoria-based cook and Instagrammer professes.
Through her Instagram page, Cooking with Hlodi, Masipa shares her renditions of some of our most treasured South African recipes.
Food, she believes, is after all the greatest and purest expression of love and nurturing.
“I have drawn inspiration from the love and universal language of food. I fell in love with the way you can transform a simple ingredient into a variety of different foods, be it savoury or sweet and of course it’s beautiful how food can bring people together,” she says.
There is a sense of magic in watching a guest at your table take that first bite from a plate of food you have served, she says.
“I get this fulfilling feeling when I have just finished cooking and I am dishing up and they take that first bite with this look of satisfaction, almost; and they are just like ‘wow this is so good, how did you make this?’,” she says.
“Usually when I am cooking, I don’t cook a lot of food, I cook just enough so when they want more then there is no more; that lingering feeling of wanting more stays with them.
“I enjoy cooking and sharing recipes, I hope to one day write a series of cookbooks as well as travel the world and experience different cuisines.”
Her journey as a food influencer had humble beginning on a WhatsApp status. “A friend of mine was like, ‘Wow, you should be doing this on Instagram’. I was nervous.”
One day she took the leap and posted something, and it took off from there.
‘I fell in love with the way you can transform a simple ingredient into a variety of different foods, it’s beautiful how food can bring people together.’
“It is something that I have done even before Instagram, I cater for my family, they were always that confirmation that I needed and affirmed that I can cook,” she says.
Masipa is currently pursuing her qualification in chartered accountancy and develops recipes whenever she has a moment to spare from her busy studies. Her exams for her postgraduate diploma in accounting CTA have been scheduled for June and she is currently busy with her articles.
“Cooking is more of a hobby that turned into something big. Accounting is my career; it is something I love. For some reason (the two) gel for me. When I am done studying and taking a break I go to the kitchen and prepare meals I want to post,” she explains.
She was born in the Limpopo village of Botlokwa in a township called Ga-Kgapane. When Masipa turned eleven, her family moved to Midrand in Gauteng.
Some of her fondest kitchen memories came from spending time with her mother, Phophie, who taught her everything she knows about food.
“I am glad I still get to spend time with her in the kitchen every now and then. From her teaching me how to cook when I was about eleven to now arguing about how to cook a certain dish. She taught me my way around the kitchen and now we get to do it together and bond over our love for flavourful food.”
An ingredient that stirs up a little conflict between mother and daughter in the kitchen is eggplant. “I think that’s the only food I absolutely avoid cooking and even eating,” she laughs.
Covid-19 has altered food culture
Before she started sharing recipes and creating content for her Instagram page Masipa also catered events with some 200 guests on weekends. “It was so gruelling, I was literally standing for 25 hours, but in the end it went well. It was a positive experience.”
Creating content for over 36 000 followers is no easy feat. Masipa has found that pandemic-panicked foodies are looking for food content that is honest, relatable, and authentic.
“Authenticity is the new currency, you need an influencer who you can connect with and not aspire to be. I make sure my followers are part of my successful and failed kitchen experiments,” she says.
Seeing her followers grow in numbers has been the ultimate highlight. “When I started, the goal was simply to share my version of dishes as well as share new ideas with people.”
Dreams can become reality if you just start, she says.
“Literally that is it, just start what you want to achieve, start the journey. All I had to do was start and when I did, I never gave up or felt the urge to do so. Get started and keep going,” she says.
Masipa also swears you could never go wrong with a simple pasta dish. A regular feature on her dinner table, though? “Wors stew, it’s quick and easy. It takes only 20 minutes to prepare,” she says.
Follow you dreams and aspirations, she advises. “If you can dream it, you can achieve it. Have fun doing what you do, and you will grow to love it even more and ultimately make you the best version of yourself. Do not be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you.”