‘Many people forget that I am separate from Tannie Maria’ – an interview with Sally Andrew on her brand-new cookbook
 More about the book!

Sally Andrew, creator of the bestselling Tannie Maria series, has published a cookbook with Penguin Random House!

Recipes to Die Live For features recipes from Andrew’s first four Tannie Maria murder mystery novels, as well as some tantalising new additions.

Read an interview with the author:

What makes this cookbook special?
It is unusual in that Tannie Maria is not a real-life cook, but a fictional character: an agony aunt and an amateur sleuth who is obsessed with food. In her agony-aunt letters, Maria provides sage advice, as well as a recipe that will help solve the writer’s problem. She also uses food to get clues in the solving of murder mysteries. And she just loves to cook and eat.

The recipes are all non-fiction, however. They are so real you can taste them.

This book is also special because it’s the most beautiful book I’ve ever seen. It contains fantastic photographs of the sublimely styled dishes, as well as letters to and from ‘Tannie Maria’s Love Advice and Recipe Column’. There are also exquisite shots capturing the Karoo world of Tannie Maria, including veldskoene, gwarrie trees, ostriches, kudu, Towerkop, Ladismith cemetery, the Spar, the NGK and lots more.

Where did the idea for a Tannie Maria cookbook come from?
In the very first novel in the Tannie Maria mystery series, Maria wants to write a cookbook, but she is distracted by murder and love. Each of the four novels in the series has about fifteen recipes at the back of it, that are referred to within the course of the story. This cookbook contains most of these, with a few additions. I had decided that after four novels (each set in a different season), I’d produce a full cookbook. But the concept for the feel and message of the cookbook was something that I came up with while sitting under a giant shepherds bush tree in Botswana. The outline of each of my books has been conceived under various ancient trees in the wilderness.

Does the book have a theme or message?
Yes: ‘Enjoy Life.’

Maria had a particularly hard time in my most recent novel, The Milk Tart Murders, and she really needs to have a break and just enjoy life. The quotes and the letters selected also support this message. But they go a little deeper into how to achieve the enjoyment of life. Not only with cooking and eating delicious meals, but also how to manage the challenges of the heart. How to find, and build trust and love, even when the heart has been broken. The overarching philosophy of Maria is to be kind to yourself and others. Her messages are articulated with her unique quirky humour and poignancy.

What are your favourite flavours as a cook and how do they differ from Tannie Maria’s?
I am glad you asked that question because many people seem to forget I am separate from Tannie Maria. For many years I was very ill and part of my healing was eating raw food, and avoiding sugar, wheat and dairy. So in the early days, everything Maria ate was on my ‘don’t touch’ list. Now I am better and I enjoy all her food (in moderation). I really do find her recipes, especially her sweet treats, moan-out-loud delicious. We share a love for citrus, ginger and coriander. She is particularly fond of buttermilk, peanut butter, apricot jam and coffee.

How do you think your Tannie Maria readers will respond to the cookbook?
I think they will gobble it up. It is much more convenient to have one cookbook you keep in the kitchen, rather than searching for recipes from the back of the novels. The book is visually such a celebration of Tannie Maria’s world. And making and eating the recipes allows one to physically enter (in a magical realism kind of way) into this world. It is also a lovely introduction to Tannie Maria, for those who haven’t yet met her, as it not only contains fabulous recipes, but is also Maria’s agony-aunt letters and her beautiful Karoo home.


This article was originally published in The Penguin Post, a magazine about books for book lovers from Penguin Random House South Africa.

Categories Cookery Lifestyle Non-fiction South Africa

Tags Interviews Penguin Random House SA Recipes to Live For Sally Andrew Tannie Maria series The Penguin Post

1 Votes

You must log in to post a comment