Great Granny Annie’s Recipe
I take great pains with the authenticity of the Kydd books, visiting the locations in the tales for extensive on-site research, poring over charts and maps, checking technical specifications regarding Age of Sail seamanship and consulting experts in all kinds of arcane fields. It’s a big investment in terms of time and money but a part of the writing process that I find most pleasurable. And I particularly enjoy hearing from readers who in some way have a special connection with the Kydd books. This has ranged from a guide aboard HMS Victory to yachtsmen in the Caribbean who have recreated Kydd’s journeys, to a reader born and raised in Guildford, Kydd’s home town.
The May Reader of the Month, Sybil Galbraith, is one such reader. Sybil now lives in the small village of Glenfarg in central Scotland but grew up in the late 50s in South Africa. An artist and student of family history, Sybil was drawn to the Kydd series when she saw a copy of CONQUEST aboard the Perth and Kinross mobile library service van and picked it up, intrigued by the story location. Sybil told me: ‘It was so interesting to read your book and relate to a lot of the material you mention.’ Not only does she know the country well but her family tree goes back many generations there. ‘My ancestor Kommandant Jacobus Linde fought at the battle of Blouberg and supported General Janssens when he went into the hinterland to promote peace and harmony with the native tribes.’ Sybil has traced her roots back to Hans Jurgens Linde who arrived in the Cape in the service of the VOC [Dutch East India Company] in 1753. ‘Their descendants today farm in the Ceres district and have a huge enterprise exporting fruit.’
Sybil was intrigued with mention of Kydd attending the races in Cape Town in CONQUEST. ‘My ancestors bred race horses and my great Granny Annie would go riding every afternoon in her black riding habit!’
One of Sybil’s treasured possessions is Granny Annie’s recipe book, dated 1884, and she enjoys cooking many of the traditional dishes of the Cape. ‘The bobotie [a spicy minced meat dish topped with a savoury custard] you wrote about is to this day a very popular dish and I make it regularly when having visitors for a meal.’
In CONQUEST Renzi is offered a glass of liqueur after dinner by his host. ‘A Cape liqueur, made with the skin of the naartjie fruit …and named after Admiral van der Hum of the Dutch East India Company who did so admire it.’
Here is Great Granny Annie’s recipe for Van der Hum liqueur:
- 6 bottles brandy
8 small cups sugar (6 brown, 2 white)
30 cloves, 60 allspice, 2 sticks of cinnamon
1 wine glass of rum
1 small cup naartjie peel [a native citrus fruit, similar to a small mandarin]
½ nutmeg, grated
4 blaar foelie [blue figs]
This should be allowed to steep for a month or two in a cool place in a large stone jar and then decanted into glass bottles.
Cheers – or as they say in Afrikaans, Gesondheid!
Would you like to be a candidate for Reader of the Month? Just get in touch with a few sentences about your background and why you enjoy the Kydd series
Janssens: By Jan Willem Pieneman (http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/SK-A-2219) [Public domain, Public domain or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
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