Introduction of Eve
Holding onto her only cloth doll, Eva looked across the water at Holland’s coast line. The ship was slowly pulling out of the seaport, Haven van Amsterdam, heading for South Africa. She held onto her three brothers’ hands and they all remained quietly, looking out across the ocean.
Eva was nine years old. The family waved goodbye to friends and family. A new adventure lay ahead for the Poseners, as Eva’s dad, a diamond cutter, had a contract with DeBeers, to cut diamonds in South Africa.
The sea was rough at times, and it was a very long journey. One morning they were all on deck when a most beautiful site appeared before them. A majestic mountain with a flat top outlined the sky, and two other mountains looked like they met the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. Later they found out that Table Mountain was the flat top mountain, and the other two were called Lions Head, and Devils Peak. When the southeast winds blew, a tablecloth fell over Table Mountain. This was a beautiful place, filled with sunshine, ocean, wildflowers, new friends, and a whole new learning experience.
Two years after Eva’s dad’s contract expired with DeBeers, the whole family sailed back to Amsterdam, where they bought a small cigar shop and lived above the shop. Just before WWII, Eva and the family came back to Cape Town, South Africa, because they heard the rumblings about Hitler coming to Holland. This time when they waved goodbye to family and friends, from the ship as it pulled out of the seaport, Haven van Amsterdam, Holland, they would never see many of them again, as many of the family and friends did not survive the holocaust. Once again, her father cut diamonds for DeBeers. A few years later, he and two other diamond cutters formed their own diamond-cutting company in Cape Town.
Eva could speak very little English when she first arrived in South Africa, but was determined to speak English well, and speak it well she did. She wanted her children to go to English schools and speak English, as she said, “the world is English.” Eva wrote with her left hand, but the teachers forced her to write with her right hand by tying her left hand behind her back to the chair. All left-handers went through the same struggle, and she became ambidextrous.
Cape Town became Eva’s home. Later she married Tip (Christiaan Gutteling), whom she met during WWII. His Dutch Royal Merchant Navy ship docked in South Africa during the war. After the war, Tip came back to South Africa and he married Eva. Their first child, Pam, was born in Cape Town. Later they moved to Johannesburg for a working opportunity Tip had, and Johannesburg became their home. Five years later, the second child, Helen, was born. Sadly, Eva became a single parent soon after Helen was born due to a divorce. Much later, Eva became a South African citizen. She retired twice from Barclay’s National Bank in Johannesburg.
“Eat it, it’s fresh,” was a famous saying of Eve to her family. Fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh everything, and she would classify the household as “poor” if a bowl or basket of fresh fruit and vegetables did not occupy a space in the kitchen. The Chinese vegetable garden was down the road, and a Portuguese fruit and vegetable store was a short walk from her home in South Africa. The vegetables still had lots of dirt on them; they were not shiny and clean like they are here in the United States. They came straight out of the ground to the stores. The vegetables were washed and scrubbed when a meal was prepared. Vegetables were often cooked in a pressure cooker, especially beets that would then be pickled. Eve made her own mayonnaise, grew her own yogurt, and made everything from scratch which kept her family healthy and strong.
Eve had loads of advice for everyone in and out of the kitchen; such as, never eat out of a can, except for sardines. Canned food that is dented especially on the seam, leaking or bulging, should not be used; return the damaged can to the place of purchase, and that advice is good for today as well. “Fizzy drinks” such as coca cola and blue jeans were banned from the house. “Fizzy drinks” would rot the teeth, and they were not a necessity in the budget. Blue jeans were not for ladies.
In South Africa, once a week, Eve bought fresh fish from the fish market that was located downtown Johannesburg. Eve would stop at the fish Market on her way home from work, then catch the bus home, every Wednesday evening, without fail. Trying new recipes, filled with exotic ingredients, herbs, and spices often filled the air in the kitchen and permeated throughout the house. She loved to experiment with recipes from all over the world. Inviting friends over for dinner or weekend lunches was enjoyed by all. Herbs and spices would never be kept for more than a year, and fresh herbs were preferred.
At meal time, everything was served in bowls on the table. The pots with the food were never placed on the table, as that was not good serving etiquette. The table was set for every meal, with knives, forks, spoons, and napkins. Often, many pots and pans were used, but that depended on the recipe, and everything was served in serving dishes. No shortcuts were taken. Everyone ate together at the table, and if dessert was served, clean plates were used.
Every now and then a meal was served outside on trays, and the California climate of Johannesburg was enjoyed by all. Johannesburg is 5,751 feet above sea level. The plates of food that were served on a tray also had a decorative flair to it, always appetizing and of course, delicious.
Fried sheep brains for breakfast, heart, kidney, in steak and kidney pie, whole fish (Eve would love to eat the fish’s eyes), raw liver, and tripe (stomach). All kinds of exotic foods would be served as this was what Eve’s budget could afford.
Eating out was a rare treat. Going into town with the tram or bus and going to “Wimpey’s” or a local downtown café for a hamburger, lime milk shake, chicken mayonnaise sandwich, or a grilled cheese sandwich was exciting. Very little bread or pasta was served or eaten, only a sandwich for lunch to school and work, French toast sometimes for breakfast, or small pieces of garlic bread with a lunch or dinner meal.
She loved to serve special liqueurs before and after entertainment dinners. There are some recipes in this cook book that contain liqueurs.
Baking was Eve’s specialty. She baked and decorated wedding cakes and specialty birthday cakes. Wedding cakes in South Africa are made from fruit cake – not big chunks of fruit but finely chopped fruit (the recipe is in the cook book). The cake was then covered in marzipan and royal icing, which helped preserve the cake for years. On the children’s birthdays, choosing a desired specialty cake was very exciting. One year, Pam wanted a treasure chest. It was all a surprise. Everyone had to go to bed early the night before the birthday, and everyone would wake up early the next morning to a small table, decorated with the surprise cake, favorite candies, and a few small wrapped packages. Eve would spend most of the evening and sometimes into the night to bake and create a surprise cake. She made extra money baking specialty cakes as well.
She could also type without looking at the typewriter keys at an amazing speed. Eve received a lot of practice during the WWII, in Cape Town, as she worked for “Cable and Wireless” as a decoder. Women were seated and lined up with black cloths over their hands while they typed and decoded information from submarines and ships. During her lifetime, she did so many things with her hands, knitting, crocheting, and sewing, seldom looking at the needles. Sweaters, socks, scarves, mittens, gloves, dress suites, tops and skirts, always trying something new. Everything came out perfectly!
Cane (wicker) weaving was something else she loved to do and also made and sold trays and baskets. She once made a toy cane chair for our dolls. The cane had to be soaked to get pliable, and colored plastic string would be woven into the tray. The boards were cut from a laminated board, and holes placed all around the edge of the board, so that the cane could be woven through the holes of the board. Some trays were oval and some round. Years later, plastic-coated cane came out in all various colors, and the cane did not need to be soaked anymore as it was very pliable. She taught her children to make trays, baskets, baking, cake decorating, flower arranging, sewing, knitting, and crocheting.
Radio was one of the sources of entertainment, as TV only came to South Africa in 1975 and was an hour long in the evenings. TVs were so expensive during the beginning of TV entertainment, that only a few people could afford to have one. In the beginning of 1990, Eve called Helen in Texas from South Africa, and was really excited.
She said, “We have a new breakfast TV show.”
How exciting mom, what is it called?
In 1977, Helen traveled and stayed in the United States, became an American in 1983, and August of 1993, Eva and her oldest daughter Pam, her son-in-law Tommy; two granddaughters, Joanne and Kate came to live with her youngest daughter, Helen in Texas. They were thirteen years on the USA waiting list.
After a few years, Eva became an American. She loved her time in the United States and learned to cook some great American recipes which are also featured in this cookbook. Some of her South African friends and many of her American friends affectionately started calling her Eve.
In August 1993, when Eve came to the United States to live in Texas with her family, not only did she love living in the United States, she also loved all the many spices and selections of food in the grocery stores.
“Look at this cereal aisle!” An hour or two went by just looking at the cereal aisle, never mind all the other aisles. At first it was day trips, yes, day trips to the grocery stores. “What a selection of products, and what a lot of choices!” The Dallas weekend market was also visited a lot. Delicious fresh vegetables and fruit filled her basket.
She loved life and everything she experienced in it.
A final tea party with all of her family, friends, some of her favorite recipes, as well as sweet and funny stories filled with laughter were shared in her honor in 2006.
This cookbook is written in memory of the greatest chef in our family, Eva Posener Gutteling.