Small town girl with big dreams sharing brutally honest and simple reviews of my weekend foodie indulgences in Cape Town. When I’m not in the office, I’m exploring, writing about, photographing and pondering about this fragile adventure we call life.
Name: Amilinda Wilkinson
Age: Young heart, old soul.
Dislikes: Disceit, animal abuse, idiot drivers, mushrooms, short weekends, summer, drama of any kind
Likes: Long holidays, food festivals, folksy music, pets (especially dogs and rats), pizza, unnecessary shopping sprees, pretty hair and make-up days, grow-your-own-veggies and my camera kit.
Occupation: Professional foodie. Amateur photographer. Experienced traveler and hopefully soon a recognised food writer. But the job that pays the bills? Administrative stuff.
My journey with food started at a very young age, as it often does. It’s a passion that takes hold of you when you are still too small to sit at the dinner table properly without being propped up on several cushions. It’s in your blood long before you understand that an eggplant, a brinjal and an aubergine are all the same. It’s a way of life, and once that taste for good food starts to develop, it becomes a life-long love affair that’s second to none.
My mom got terribly ill when I was about twelve. My frantic mind immediately reached out to nutrition as the solution to this problem. Even with my child-like logic, I instinctively knew that healthy food meant a healthy body. I studied piles of recipe books I loaned from the public library, and paged through stacks of women’s magazines for inspiration.
So, with a wobbly pan, a simple pasta pot, a two-plate stove and a wooden spoon, I submerged myself in the world of food. I would come home from school and carefully select the scant ingredients our mini-fridge had to offer. The kitchen would be a mess, and I would end up dirtying every pot and pan we had, but seeing my mom eat that humble plate of food was the most rewarding experience I could ever wish for.
As I became more comfortable in my new role in the kitchen, I realised that presentation is as important as the meal itself. Curly parsley became my new best friend. As my skills developed, I expanded my repertoire with julienne carrots, tomato flowers, dainty droplets of sauce, grounds of black pepper, and a handful of chopped herbs as a quick and nutritious garnish. These were the days before social media, Jamie Oliver cookbooks, Nigella TV-shows or MasterChef. Recipe’s weren’t visual; they were static pictures in yellowing cookbooks that often looked very uninspiring.
My mom and I walked this road to health together over the next year or so. I didn’t want to stop; I wanted to learn more, cook more, taste more. Unbeknownst to my self-conscious twelve-year-old self, my love of food would become a defining character of the adult me, and would fill my life with so many new adventures, flavours and indulgences. It would lead me here, to The Little Hedonist.
Finding and losing love
About four years ago, the adult version of me married my soulmate and love of my life, my beautiful husband, Karl, who quietly believed in me when I didn’t have the capacity to believe in myself.
We lived the young-adult, responsible life, in a coastal suburb of Cape Town, with our house and garden and dogs and day jobs. But oh, we were hedonists at heart, and weekends were our guilt-free spells of sheer indulgence. Wine, chocolate, lunch, breakfast, coffee, cocktails, pastries, breads, platters, cheese…you name it! We worked hard, but we indulged even harder! We both enjoyed beautiful food, prepared simply, in gorgeous outdoor settings.
We sought out the food markets, the little café’s and bistros, the unfamiliar little pizza places. We sniffed out the best wine-food pairings, and the most exquisite desserts. Coupled with my love for writing and our shared passion for photography, and The Little Hedonist seemed, after so many years, the obvious thing to do.
Unfortunately, devastatingly, my beautiful Karl passed away in August 2017, almost 10 years to the day after I first met the only person I ever wanted to share my life with. To read more about our exceptional love story and my motivation for continuing The Little Hedonist in his memory, I’ve written a blog called, The Promise.
I’ve started a side blog, called For the Love of Karl, which is mostly my personal reflections, stories, and emotions as I embark on this new, life-changing journey without Karl (also a Facebook page under the same name).
Continuing for Karl
I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d finally take the plunge and commit to writing a food blog. Like I’m seriously committed to this. I guess, in a way, I’m still that self-conscious twelve-year-old kid, wondering what the hell I’m doing, and wondering what people will think of it. But for me, it’s a place to express my (somewhat!) creative tendencies and a space in which to keep my daydreams alive (other than in my humble kitchen). Suburban life (and the bucketful of responsibilities that come with it!) can be a dream-killer and time-gobbler, so I decided this is something I need to do for myself. And for Karl. This is my therapy; this is my way of keeping him close and fulfilling one of the many dreams he had for me, for us.
Karl realised what The Little Hedonist meant to me, and his greatest joy was to watch me succeed and thrive in my new role.
He woke me up one night and made me promise to keep on writing. He made me promise that I should continue being The Little Hedonist even if he couldn’t be there, as he only ever wanted me to be happy, and he knew that this was where my heart and soul found peace. He held my hands in the darkness of the night and he made me promise. Little did we know what would happen a mere few weeks later.
So this is where I’m at. Lost. Completely alone and lost. But, with the last grain of my strength, I can recognise that my most awesome Karl left me the gift of The Little Hedonist. God knows where this will go, or how it will evolve. But I will write. I will write, because my life depends on it right now.
So, #thisonesforyou my love.