Saturday, January 16, 2021

Dorah Sitole (1953-2021)

Today, I learned for the first time of a very intriguing author: Dorah Sitole, known as South Africa's "first black food writer and a celebrated food personality." (source)

Dorah Sitole, 40 Years of Iconic Food.
This book is not yet released in the US.
Dorah Sitole was born in Soweto, South Africa, in 1953. She overcame many challenges of living in that oppressive and racist regime, and became an author. She wrote: "I travelled to 19 countries across our incredible continent, and to all the provinces within South Africa, in order to capture the essence of our indigenous food. The result was Cooking from Cape to Cairo, published by Tafelberg Publishers in 1999." (source)

In October, 2020, Dorah Sitole published a new book: 40 Years of Iconic Food. She felt that she had just entered "her encore years." Alas, on January 4, 2021, she tragically died of Covid.

Reading her obituaries and the reviews of the book which just appeared, I felt very sad that I had never heard of her or read her work; I have searched for available copies of her books, but have not found a good source so that I can obtain them. I will persist!

From one of the obituaries:

"In a foreword to her book [40 Years of Iconic Food], Sitole wrote that she’d also included the two decades that prepared her for the 'path I was to walk'. 'I truly believe my relationship with food was formed by my childhood experiences. And with my encore years, this story spans six-and-a-half decades!'

"It should not be glossed over that the racial divide was present in the food writing and publishing industry, and those of us who were exposed only to the white food writers were the poorer for it; also missed was the opportunity to unite us through shared culinary heritages. Heritage Day, for instance, had everything to do with food for Sitole, as she wrote: “Marked by a kaleidoscope of colours and flavours, Heritage Day is a day many South Africans proudly celebrate. Across the country, tables will groan with food for friends and families. The base ingredients are often the same: meat, starches and vegetables. But cuisine isn’t fixed: every individual brings their history and themselves to the kitchen." (source)

I'm hoping that her new book will be released in the US so that I can read it. Ordering it from South Africa is prohibitively expensive.  


My name is Erika. said...

I haven't heard of her either, but she sounds like an amazing person. And not very old either I may say. (On an aside, We started Lupin on Netflix the other night. Good series. Thanks for mentioning it.)

Valerie-Jael said...

She must have been a very strong and determined woman, her books sound most interesting. Have a great weekend, Valerie

gluten Free A_Z Blog said...

Thank you for bringing our attention to this talented woman. I will be interested in looking into her well researched cookbooks. Such a s sad ending for a relatively still young woman.

Tina said...

I ordered a book from a London bookstore on an upcoming novel, The Survivors, and the shipping was almost as much as the book.
I like foodie memoirs, very sad she died of Covid.

A Day in the Life on the Farm said...

I haven't heard of this author either. The fact that you are looking for her next book speaks volumes.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I hope you do find the books of this author, and, when you do, that you share the source. What a tragic end to her life. I would love to see her books.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

The coronavirus has taken so many people. It's so sad. She sounds like someone who could bridge the divide between white and black foodies. It's too bad she had to die before I learned about her. Thanks for sharing her, Mae.

Tandy | Lavender and Lime ( said...

Mae, if we get to the UK in June we will be there with my American family. I will gladly ask them to post you a copy when they get home. I will be in touch via email.

Elza Reads said...

Hi there Mae!

How lovely that you feature Mama Sithole's Cook Book on your blog! I'm a South African and she really was an iconic figure.

I know it's very expensive to order books from South Africa. Same counts via versa. To get books from across our borders, cost an arm and a leg and then we aren't aloud to import from a lot of countries and even get blocked on Amazon Kindle from some countries/states.

The world isn't always fair, not even in the bookish world.

Hope you will be able to get a copy soon.

Elza Reads

Jeanie said...

Very interesting. I wonder how many people die who have contributions such as this that no one ever heard of before. I suspect thousands. She sounds so very interesting. It hurts, hearing how many people who have left us before their time because of the virus.

DVArtist said...

Thanks for the introduction. I will look her up and see if I can get the book.

Jinjer-The Intrepid Angeleno said...

I was excited for you to post a sample recipe but then saw that you haven't been able to get your hands on her books yet. Bummer! Sounds like a fascinating life!

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

I love exotic foods. It would be great if her book would be published in North America. Thanks for sharing!

IzaBzh said...

I'm sorry she died of Covid :( African cooking is not much known in France, there aren't many African restaurants, except maybe in Paris. I tried to buy African cookbooks for my library, but I only found 2 ! I'd be curious to try.