Three Generations of Cooking

I was privileged to have spent my childhood on a remote cattle ranch in the Gwayi Valley in Zimbabwe. My earliest childhood memories were of sitting at my Oupa Neels feet , watching him patiently peeling fruit picked from their Orchards. We loved to go collecting fresh eggs in the lucerne patch and on hot days ….we could not resist swimming in the icy cold farm reservoir.

The family homestead was situated in the sandveld , on a ridge overlooking the vast Shangani Valley. The entrance of the house was through the kitchen , you were always welcomed with the smell of soet cookies or fresh bread baking in the aga oven. Ouma could always be found busy bottling marmalades , watermelon konfyt, making butter or soap, or busy cooking the next meal for the whole family. There was always an abundance of home grown food on the table and we would all sit together as a family to eat and discuss the day and what had happened on the ranch.

My Mum Val arrived from Natal and married into the Van Wyk clan, not knowing how to cook….. and was taken under the wing of her Afrikaans Mother in Law Joey , who over time passed along generations of family recipes for us to enjoy. We lived in a thatched eco – bush home surrounded by Mopane Forests, on the banks Shangani River . Night entertainment consisted of gathering in the courtyard for sun downers and cards around the table, to the background hiss of the tilley lamps , buzzing brown moths and long legged spiders, which had us putting our feet on the table among the cards. As young children my brother Pierre and I liked to help my Dad in the vegetable gardens, one of my favorite pastimes was playing in the mud with the hose pipe… and once a week we would join Dad on the back of the Landrover for a drive to the dry dusty cattle dip, where we spent the day helping the staff herd the cattle. We learnt to ride at a young age and holidays home from boarding school were spent out riding our horses in the bush or canoeing and fishing for Bream in our local dam .

Our lives changed direction after a period of turmoil in Zimbabwe’s history and with the constant cattle and wildlife conflict with cattle born disease and predators such as lion. My Dad made the decision to start doing Safaris. Mum being a domestic goddess with a sense of humor … and a natural teacher set about training the staff . Linkwasha Tented Camp in Hwange National Park hosted its first guests in 1985. Chris and Val Van Wyk were well known for their warm hospitality , excellent fresh home cooked food supplied from the ranch and trained some of the best Safari Guides in Zimbabwe.

My love of the food and cooking and understanding of hospitality from the heart , has been a family inheritance. I have lived and worked in the Safari Industry my entire life… I love cooking and plan to share all the stories of our lives on Safari, as well as the recipes that have been passed down through the years in our family.

Author -Leanne Gammon

16 Comments Add yours

  1. Ali and Rob Sayers says:

    Oh! Leanne! What a well-written intro! Rob and I are so privileged to have been part of your wonderful early memories. We wish you great joy with your blog and eagerly await the recipes you are gracious enough to share. Congratulations on another new venture, all our love, Rob and Ali


    1. Ali – thank you xxx Its been special to do this with Mum and to look through all our old cook books – which Mum has kept. She will be writing too as she has a real gift xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ali Sayers says:

        It is very special and will make a wonderful heirloom for future generations. Lots of love to you and Mum, and of course, Dad too, šŸ˜˜šŸ˜˜šŸ˜˜šŸ˜˜

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Ali , If you want to sign up for the recipes – if you go to contact button on the rhs and fill out – the blogs will come direct to you xx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Memories that are very precious of both Karna Block and Linkwasha.
    The loss of people such as your family to our country will always be painful, but we have watched you build a new life and endure. Write more stories Leanne amd we so look forward to the recipes.


    1. Thanks Gail – we have alot of shared memories with your family through the years. Once has to move on and stay positive. Mum is working with me on this project and its been a special journey for us both – going through all the family and camp recipe books Love to you all in Zim xx


  3. Lois Haslam says:

    Anxious to read more. Has an unforgettable trip with Russell some years af. Lois Haslam


    1. Hi Lois – great to hear from you – Thanks for the support.


  4. Louise Posthuma says:

    Looking forward to your blog Leanne, it’s amazing to be doing something you enjoy and want to share šŸ‘


    1. Thanks Louise , I am sure you have wonderful recipes to from Monica xx


    2. Hi Louise – if you want to get my blogs direct would be awesome to share to you all – you can go to contacts and fill out the details and the blogs will come direct to you. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hazel gammon says:

    Well done Leanne and Val. I can just imagine what fun you two are having. I loved hearing about your early days, and look forward to getting recipes. Love to you both.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mum , If you want to sign up for further blogs if you go to contact on the rhs – and fill out the details it will come direct to you. Its been an emotional journey for both of us and alot of fun too…


  6. Louisa says:

    I was lucky to have met this incredible family and shared a Safari experience with them at Linkwasha many years ago. My partner at the time was a trainee guide and we were fortunate to have enjoyed Chris as a mentor and teacher for almost a week. I met this wonderful writer and incredible lady when she married our friend Russell years later. Reading this introduction brought back wonderful memories. Very special people. Very special place.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. frugalholdings says:

    My sister tried your hot cross bun recipe with great success. As a family we thoroughly enjoyed this home made treat for Easter this year.
    Thankyou for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. frugalholdings says:

    We loved your home made bun recipe. They were so good we enjoyed them in favor of store bought buns for easter this year!

    Liked by 1 person

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