Fikz's cabbage creativity dispels vegetable myth
If you haven't encountered a terrible joke about cabbage being the only food we can afford this month, you're blessed. Just like the tradition of going home for the holidays, so too is the cabbage joke.
There have been foodies and chefs who've decided to bust the myth that cabbage is struggle food, and one of them is Fikile "Fikz" Cynthia Zungu.
Zungu believes that with a little creativity, cabbage goes a long way. The self-taught cook has even created a cabbage bread. I came across her fun and colourful recipes on Twitter following a thread on aforementioned cabbage jokes.
The 40-year-old Soweto-born Zungu is now based in Belgium. She's been in that country since 2010. She worked as a maid and was promoted two years ago to being a private cook to the South African ambassador to Belgium. She's started her own brand called Maid to Cook.
"I'm a self-taught cook and honestly, for now I cannot say I have any challenges with being self-taught. Maybe in the future I might encounter some challenges because something in my cooking journey will require me to have a certain paper to show that I can cook," she says.
But for now, that is not holding her back. Zungu shares her scrumptious banting recipes on Twitter, she's jovial and doesn't mind sharing her recipes with her followers and is constantly giving feedback on dishes she's tagged on. When asked what common mistakes people make when cooking from a recipe, she says that they follow it to the letter.
"Firstly, a cooking recipe is not like a baking recipe, with cooking some rules can be broken. People should keep in mind that a recipe is just a guiding tool and it is their responsibility to bring or create the taste according to your taste buds. Adding a twist to a recipe is not bad, that is how you learn how to cook and bring your own preferred flavours to a dish," she says.
She goes on to say that foodies should also bear in mind that stoves, equipment and measurements are not universal, and applying one's knowledge is paramount. The spunky social media friendly cook says her kasi roots are what made her - her favourite food is pap and amaqina.
"When I eat that it takes my mind back to ekasi and gosh, I love being a kasi girl. I live in Belgium but the kasi in me never dies, it lives in me."
Zungu approaches food in her own unique way, she's scared of watching cooking shows because she believes they'll water down her audacity to test out new things.
"I'm good at inventing recipes, I know how to manipulate food. There are a lot of sauces and recipes that I have invented that I would love to go global," she proudly proclaims.
Zungu has big plans for herself. Firstly, she hopes to have her cook book, Maid To Cook (which is inspired by banting), published by March this year.
She's also hoping to clinch a brand ambassadorship, open a restaurant, start a banting cooking show, among other things, in the near future. It's a wish list that is a testament to her vision for herself.
"Before cooking, my life had no meaning, no dreams. I never thought of myself as someone who would be able to turn her future around as I did. My life was empty, but now there is more to life for Fikz. I'm on fire, I'm unstoppable, I have dreams for my future, now I'm relevant, I am the story, I'm here to inspire and I am inspired by my own story."
Zungu has shared some tips and recipes for those who have a taste for cabbage and those who are looking for some fresh meat-free recipes. "Don't just boil or steam vegetables, add some spices, cook them with wine, add lemon, honey and some garlic butter."
Cabbage bread recipe
3 cups of chopped cabbage
2 tbsp pure butter
Handful cheese (you can use any ingredient to pimp your cabbage bread up so it tastes nice)
Pinch of salt
Mix the ingredients together, then smear the butter in a square-shaped container.
Scoop enough of the cabbage mixture and flatten it with a spoon evenly.
Microwave for four minutes (continue the same process with the remaining mixture).
From the microwave, lay the breads in an oven pan and bake on 180 degrees until the bread is dry. Keep pressing it with a spatula for it to release the moisture.
Then make the sishebo.
They complement the bread and bring flavour to it.
¼ cup white wine
dry herbs (if you want)
Mix everything together but not the red cabbage yet.
Fry according to your preferred texture of the cabbage. Then add the red cabbage and fry it all together 2-3 min.
Chop the cabbage and red onion and fry with garlic butter, season with garlic powder, coriander and salt (add eggplant when cabbage is about ready)
Fry till your required texture of the cabbage. On the side blanch the green beans and remove from water. Boil carrots till semi- soft. Then mix everything in pan.