My Portuguese feast: an interview with Mimi Jardim

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My Portuguese feast
Mimi Jardim

Publisher: Quivertree Publications
ISBN: 9781928209591

Writers on their new books: Mimi Jardim talks to Naomi Meyer about Jardim's book My Portuguese feast.

Hi Mimi! Please would you tell our readers about your background?

I was born in Portugal. I went to school in South Africa, matriculated and studied at the Home Economics Teachers Training College. I taught at schools for many years and owned my own cookery school. I then joined Nando’s as product developer. I am still teaching and consulting for Nando’s.

Your book My Portuguese feast was published earlier this year – congratulations! Why did you write this book?

After completing 50 years of a cooking career, it was time to share my experiences.

When you leave a country, do you leave behind its food? What are your childhood memories in terms of food? Have you always liked to cook?

Childhood memories are never forgotten – especially those of food. Family gatherings and special occasions were always full of treats. My whole family, past and present, love to cook; I just followed, but in a professional way. And I still love to cook, especially to experiment – making something with few ingredients.

What is your favourite food – in Portugal, and over here?

My favourite food in Portugal was and is still sardines on the coal and cheeses. In South Africa: sosaties and mosbolletjies.

Your book is about Portugal, but it is also about some sort of celebration. Am I right? Please elaborate on the word “feast”.

Having published other books on Portuguese cooking, I did not want to repeat recipes. This book is about a celebration of moods, travels, family, classes – therefore, a feast.

You are from Portugal originally, but have been living in South Africa for a long time. Do you see any similarities between the foods of these two countries?

Potjie is our caldeirada, smoorsnoek is bacalhau à Brás, and milk tart is a cousin to pastéis de nata.

In terms of climate and produce: would you find all the ingredients (at affordable prices) for your book in South African shops?

When writing recipes, you have to make sure ingredients are available and in season.

You are not the only cook in the family. Please tell me about your children, if you wish.

All my children are very good cooks in their own way. One of them turned professional: my son Daniel became a vegetarian at an early age, so he had to put together dishes that he could eat. He has written cookery books himself.

Do you always enjoy cooking, or is it also a nice change if somebody else does the cooking? In other words: is cooking always a pleasure, or sometimes a chore as well?

Cooking will always be a passion, but as one gets older, it can become a chore! I love to be invited to a meal, sit down and relax.

Christmas is around the corner. Please will you share a typical Portuguese menu for Christmas Day with your readers?

Christmas the Portuguese way is celebrated according to the region where you come from: mainland or islands.

Bacalhau (cod fish) is a must on Christmas Eve.

Turkey, pork or roasted goat are the main meat dishes.

Bolo rei is a fruit cake in a ring shape, decorated with whole glacé fruits.

Fritters of all kinds are enjoyed.

In South Africa, because of the climate, Portuguese families will enjoy the bacalhau, some traditional dishes as well as salads, and some will have a prawn braai.

I will do Xmas Eve bacalhau, boiled with cabbage, potatoes and carrots.

Tipsy slices of French toast in a port wine syrup and assorted fritters.

Xmas Day will be stuffed turkey breast and salads.

For dessert: chestnut and chocolate cheesecake.

Boas-festas | Season’s greetings

Chocolate Salami 

Many a time, when she was expecting visitors, my mother made this roll in advance. And many a time, the visitors did not eat any of it, because we discovered it before they arrived. I need hardly tell you what we got for doing this...

Makes 2 rolls or 16–20 slices 

20ml soft butter
200g sugar
2 eggs
200g drinking chocolate powder
200g Marie biscuits 

icing sugar for dusting

Mix together the butter, sugar, eggs and chocolate powder and beat lightly. Place biscuits in a strong plastic bag. Crush with a rolling pin. Fold the crushed biscuits into the chocolate mixture. If the mixture is too soft, place it in the refrigerator for a while. Turn the mixture on to greaseproof paper dusted with icing sugar and shape into mini rolls. Wrap up in the greaseproof paper and refrigerate until hard. Cut into slices before serving. 


Add 100g nibbed almonds or chopped walnuts, or 50g glacé pineapple, 50g glacé cherries and 50ml port, to the mixture. 

For a peri-peri chocolate salami, add 15ml peri-peri sauce to the mixture and sprinkle chilli flakes as well as sugar onto the greaseproof paper. (This one is a Nando’s staff must-have.) 

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