The Story

Why melon jam you might ask? Makataan melon jam is not very common so how did I make that choice? I grew up on a small farm in Zimbabwe and makataan melons were plenty on the farm. The big melons were used to make traditional dishes like nhopi and the seeds were roasted and used to make a rich tasty brown sauce which was added to beef stews. My mother also used to make jam from the melons. The smaller melons were used as feed for pigs and cattle. So I grew up with melons.

My mother, Kundayi Mhazo, loved all things cookery. She loved trying out new dishes and participating in Agricultural Shows to show off her skills. She picked up a lot of prizes and was very proud of her achievements. So growing up in her household all girl children had to learn these skills and in her words, “You have to learn all the skills I have and when you are old enough you can choose which one you want to use.” We learnt how to bake bread, cakes, and scones; how to churn butter and salt it; how to pot roast chicken and how to cut up chicken into the right portions and how to make different types of jam. The list goes on. When there was an Agricultural Show coming she would make sure we each were given something to prepare for the Show.

One year when I was in college she asked me to prepare makataan melon jam for the Show. My mom’s kitchen had a wood burning Dover stove which was her pride and joy. I cooked the jam on this stove. It was an honour. She let me do it and offered guidance when asked but she mostly let me do it my way. And the jam won first prize! It was the most exciting thing I had ever done and the feeling stayed with me for a while. This was soon forgotten when I started working and it lay dormant for more than 44 years. Then a friend offered me a makataan melon and suddenly I thought jam! The feelings flooded back and Mimie’s Ladle was born.

This jam is a tribute to a woman who lived well ahead of her time. She found ways to creatively use the produce of the land to meet the different needs of her family and she knew the importance of passing on these skills to her children.  I hope she is looking down and feeling proud.  Thanks Mom.