The family recipe stirring up a tradition of togetherness

The family recipe stirring up a tradition of togetherness

Her Facebook page, Cape Malay Cooking with Fatima Sydow started out as an initiative to simply pay homage to her late mother. 15 years later, Fatima has authored two cookbooks and hosts a cooking show with her twin sister on Via, featured on SABC 3’s breakfast show.

Fatima Sydow
Beautiful News

By the age of nine, Fatima Sydow had found her calling in food. It was inevitable. She grew up immersed in the aromatic preparation of large family meals, oscillating between her grandmother’s vegetable garden and her mom’s kitchen. “It was my mother who brought me closer to understanding food as an important part of my identity,” Sydow says. After her mother’s passing, she turned this realisation into action, and then into a legacy. 

Cape Malay food permeated Sydow’s childhood, but as time went by, she noticed that the world was changing. Her heritage was being left in the dust of a fast-paced modern world. It wasn’t just the shift towards quick and easy meals, but the diminishing routine of family dinners around the table. Bonding over a plate of food and away from technology is irreplaceable. “The beauty of sharing a meal lies within creating memories that live on,” Sydow says. To revive this fading tradition and bring back the joy of home-cooked meals, she decided to make her Cape Town-specific tastes accessible online. 

As an ode to her late mother, Sydow began a culinary-inspired Facebook page. Cape Malay Cooking with Fatima Sydow is an archive of all the recipes passed down her maternal lineage. In 15 years, it has grown into a community of over 300 000 people immersing themselves in her dishes. Sydow’s internet presence has led to two cookbooks and a television show. In spite of her renown, this chef measures her success not by taste, but the family around the table.

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