Why we love old recipe books

When I was little, I had a dream.

I would sit on the floor with my mother’s copy of the Royal Hostess recipe book (“South Africa’s own cookbook” it said proudly on the cover) and wish with all my heart that my mother would one day make me the Royal Rondawel cake.

The 1952 rondawel cake

The 1962 rondawel cake

Now that I am a mother, I understand completely why she didn’t ever make it. But I loved everything about that picture: the colours, the little Father Christmas, the hint of a present in the corner.

At a recent gathering, one of the women present said to her sister (my friend, also present) that the cake we were eating tasted just like the apple cake their long-departed mother used to make. “I still have the Royal Hostess,” she mused. “I wonder if that recipe is in there?”
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