Jibrine Akima Magdaline Jok wears a number of hats.
She’s a Caroline Springs mother of four children.
She’s a successful career woman in the finance sector.
She’s a proud member of the South Sudanese community in Melbourne and Australia.
And now she’s the author and publisher of a fabulous South Sudanese cookbook.
So far as she and I can ascertain, it’s the first South Sudanese cookbook – ever.
The book was born of her love of cooking and, more specifically, through a visit to her mother in Africa that came after more than a decade of separation.
She has been inspired, too, by the thought that food traditions can be a profound community glue in fraught times of war, refugees and families scattered to the four winds around the globe.
“When I visited my mum, we cooked every day and I heard all the stories,” Jibrine says.
“I spent most of my time jotting down notes and practising the dishes that she made on a daily basis.
“This advice she shared stays with me: ‘The more time, patience, love and passion you have for cooking meals, the greater the taste’.”
I am in awe of Jibrine’s efforts in scrambling up an Everest-like learning curve to bring this project to life.
She’s obviously a very capable human – but until now she had zero experience with writing, editing, publishing, cookbooks, translation and more.
On top of all that, she has successfully created a book of more than 100 recipes directly from the maternal source – bringing to life in the written word recipes previously transmitted only by the verbal/visual folk methods of “a handful of this, and a pinch of that”.
Like all great cookbooks, Jibrine’s effort can be seen as an end in itself – it’s beautiful to handle and read, and the photographs are simple, honest and not inappropriately styled in terms of glam.
There’a strong accent on a wide variety of stews – meat, poultry, fish, pulses.
The recipes appear to be straightforward and well presented, and most of the ingredients of the easily obtainable variety.
In some ways, Jibrine’s cookbook journey is just beginning.
The challenge now is to get that book and those recipes into the kitchens of foodies everywhere.
To buy a copy of South Sudanese Family Cookbook, try Lueth Variety Shop, 10B Paisley Street, Footscray, phone 9687 4097. It costs $30. Or email Jibrine on firstname.lastname@example.org