Discover South Africa’s rich culinary heritage with Hannerie Visser’s 100+ Flavours project

“There is a tale to be told through every mouthful of mebos and each crunch of madzhulu termites,” says Studio H creative director Hannerie Visser.

17 May 2023

Food can often be a portal into a culture – traversing history, people and geography through cuisine that has been cooked for decades, if not centuries. South Africa-based Hannerie Visser, creative director of Studio H, a culinary-minded experience design and brand consulting studio, has tapped into this archaeological aspect of food with the new project 100+ Flavours. “Through our ongoing consultation work and curation of projects over the years, we have identified an urgent need for comprehensive, accurate archiving of South African food knowledge,” Hannerie explains to It’s Nice That. South Africa, in particular, is mired by a disparate political history – one that made Hannerie all the more keen to learn more about her country’s cuisine. “A huge part of our country’s rich and diverse food heritage is under-documented or not documented at all,” she says. “Hopefully 100+ Flavours can play a role in highlighting and accelerating this need.”

Hannerie and her team have used 100+ Flavours to creatively and visually showcase the overlapping influences – ancient and modern, urban and rural – that have created regional and cultural variations on shared themes. “Vetkoek meets magwinya, tšhotlo fuses with fynvleis, and bunny chows become kota and spathlos,” Hannerie explains. It helps, of course, that Hannerie and design agency Hoick have presented the report in beautiful fashion, allowing the natural pastel colours of these unique dishes to set the overall visual palette. “We reworked the text frame formats for each flavour to mimic the format of the dish/ingredient to ensure there was a unique detail to every page,” Hannerie explains on her collaboration with Hoick. Meanwhile, the cover page aimed to present the full range of flavours all at once to emphasise the breadth of the report. “It was inspired by an extensive spice menu listing at a very well-known spice wholesaler, Atlas Trading Co, in the historical Cape Malay area in Cape Town, the Bo-Kaap,” Hannerie adds.

GalleryStudio H: 100+ Flavours (Copyright © Studio H, 2023)

Yet, the importance of the report doesn’t rely on its refined visuals, but the core of its messaging. “The report highlights the major impact that the ravages of colonialism, apartheid, poverty and dispossession have had on who consumes what, where and how often in South Africa,” Hannerie says. “It also draws attention to the insightful social, economic, political and psychological local stories that are infused into every spoon of soured sorghum ting and each bite of biltong.” As South Africa’s culinary landscape continues to change over time, food media and the platforms that amplify food culture have attempted to be more inclusive and diverse, according to Hannerie. “In a very small way, I hope that we can contribute to a more diverse and inclusive culinary world and consumer experience.”

Next, Hannerie and her team are launching a series of culinary reports. “The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations declared 2023 as the year of millets, and since millet is indigenous to South Africa and one of the world’s oldest grains, we compiled a report on millet through a South African lens,” Hannerie tells us. “Later in the year, we will be launching Kids Food Studio, an online food workbook for kids, focusing on our food heroes, entrepreneurs and activists of tomorrow.”

GalleryStudio H: 100+ Flavours (Copyright © Studio H, 2023)

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Studio H: 100+ Flavours (Copyright © Studio H, 2023)

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About the Author

Joey Levenson

Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.

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