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The Food Fox

The universe served up the perfect day for an al fresco-themed book launch. Ingrid Jones went to see what The Food Fox aka Ilse van der Merwe has been up to at the launch of her new cookbook, Easy Al Fresco.

Book launches ain’t what they used to be. It’s not just a get together of people wanting to hear where the inspiration came from, what it’s like to write a book and how long it took. It’s a celebration of the author on other levels as well.

The audience is treated to a theatre performance, like when Bianca Flanders launched her latest Pumpkin book, or Irna van Zyl had Anna Davel sing at the launch of her second book. Some book launches are fancy dress-up affairs in big bookstores where the author is interviewed by a high-profile personality. Books are promoted via social media and interpersonal gatherings. Books are having an unprecedented boom time.

When I got an invitation to the book launch of The Food Fox, the social media handle of cookbook author, television presenter, food blogger and all-round foodie enthusiast, I said an immediate yes. Out of all the foodie events I have been to Ilse was the one who came to sit with me, looked me in the eye and asked me how I am, how business is, how my daughter is doing. We would be a safe space in the middle of a crowd where we would first check in on the other before we start mingling. She is a strikingly beautiful presence with a dash of bright red lipstick towering over many people because of her length.

A few days before the launch Ilse sent an update to postpone the launch because there was a delay in the printing process. It was a sad day for Ilse, but a happy day for me, because I have discovered that I was double booked for the day and had to attend the event I said yes to first. The postponement worked in my favour. When the new date arrived, I was available and as it turned out the universe blessed us with a glorious sunny day and a big, old tree on Blaauwklippen Estate. It was the ideal setting for Ilse’s book with the apt name, Easy Al Fresco, beyond the confines of four walls, no loadshedding and in appreciation of the beauty of nature around us.

I arrived at the venue before everyone else, just to put my feet up, close my eyes for a few minutes while basking in the sunlight. It was just after the storm that did such massive damage to vineyards, homes, farms, roads and it was like a little miracle stepping into a most beautiful setting. The tables were outside under an old tree, the bubbly was on ice, umbrellas to shield us from the sun, hats were supplied to add to the idyllic picture and there was Ilse in a bright green jacket and her red lips.

She sauntered over like she always does when we are in the same space and offered a glass of bubbly and a quick chat. She looked on edge, which was unusual. Turned out the books were still delayed. Printed, but delayed. She had a few copies on display, but that was it. More guests arrived and Ilse was kept busy, but she kept staring at her phone and anxiously watching the gate.

She pulled back her shoulders, welcomed her guests, thanked her family and team, shed a few happy tears and the food was brought out. Simple abundance. We filled and refilled our plates and glasses because everything was so well presented and so well prepared and so delicious.

Just as the first guests were beginning to leave Ilse gave a loud shout for joy because a white bakkie laden with books slowly was making its way down the driveway. What a perfect ending to a perfect day. Each guest walked away with a full and happy tummy as well as a copy of this precious book by a foxy lady.


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