To buy the book, go to:  https://store.bookbaby.com/book/Have-Food-Will-Travel

I haven’t written in a while, as I’ve been distracted by the love of family and travel. This was a wonderful distraction and during this time, I managed to complete my cookbook. Next week I will request for it to be published and will send the link as soon as it has all been complete. It has been a shorter journey than I expected, but what a journey it’s been! At the beginning of the journey, my extreme fear of failure nearly made me not do it. I was afraid, but I did it anyway. What if I failed? Then I had fun trying and I learned a heap of new things. I learned to properly write recipes, I learned how to self publish, I learned how to structure a book, I learned how to design layout, front & back cover and did all the designing myself. I took up food photography as a hobby after I thought I’ll never photograph food as it is one of the hardest subjects there is to photograph. I ended up loving it and when I look back at my first images from many years ago and the images I photographed for my book, I’m astounded at the progress I’ve made in such a short time. There has been challenges. I got fat, because I made, photographed and ate all my dishes, five days a week for almost eight months. I learned not to eat your dish until you looked at the photo on the computer, because if you made a faux pas, you have to make the whole thing again and it may not be as good as it was the first time. I was told that I couldn’t get a library of congress number, because I’m self publishing, and without that number, libraries would not be willing to purchase the book. I applied for the number anyway and got approval within 24 hours. The first copy of my book is now in Washington DC in the Library of Congress. This taught me never to take things at face value and give up unless I’ve tried it myself first. The best part of the journey was to dig up the phenomenal memories of all the beautiful places we’ve been to and to realize I haven’t seen enough and have now become almost obsessed with seeing new places and experiencing new food cultures. I have fallen in love with Middle Eastern cuisine and I have a tough time deciding which is my favorite: Middle Eastern, Thai or Indian, so I’m cooking a lot of Middle Eastern “mezze” and Thai during the warmer months and will do more Indian during the winter. I give you a sneak peak into the book, hoping to whet your appetite, so I share the introduction with you. You can also follow the link I include after the introduction to take a look at the photos I took for the various recipes in the book. I hope this will get you excited to get the book and to bring the world into your kitchen by cooking your way through it.


Born in 1970 to traditionally conservative parents in South Africa, I’m still trying to figure out where the wanderlust came from. The cooking is in my genes. My maternal grandmother had a catering business and my paternal grandmother was a farmer’s wife that made amazing traditional food as only a farmer’s wife can make. My mom inherited my grandmother’s cooking gene and also chose to go the traditional South African cooking route.

Although my mom taught me to cook, and from the moment I burned the rice at age 11, I leaned a little more towards the exotic. I received my holistic nutrition diploma in 2014 and when my parents recently developed serious health issues, I decided to start a blog and add a healthy nutrition section to the blog in the hopes of not only helping them, but also anyone else out there who may need ideas for more nutritious meals. It is, of course, a continuous work in progress.

When I met my husband in 1998 and married him, neither of us had ever traveled outside of Southern Africa. Within 6 months of our first date, we were married. I inherited my extremely talented pastry chef son from him, as well as two amazing twin daughters, Melanie and Tanya. My son, Craig, was 6 at the time and our life long journey started together right there in South Africa. During this time, we lived in 6 different countries, moved 9 times and traveled as much as possible.

We now live in Texas, USA. Living in the USA is a big deal for me. Being South African, I never imagined that this horizon will ever be a blip on my radar. My wildest dream did come true. In this book, you will experience various countries and places with me, as well as some of the culturally diverse foods we’ve encountered. We’ll move beyond just where we’ve lived and explore some of the places we’ve visited.

We’ve traveled to many places, but at the same time seen so little. The world is a big place and it seems impossible to see it all. In places like the Seychelles I said, “This is the most beautiful place in the world, but can I really claim that statement to be true? I haven’t yet seen the whole world and may never have enough time to do so. I believe this need to see it all, this urge, is what builds wanderlust. That incredible desire to experience the beauty of the whole world before I lie my head to rest is what drives me to live and to cook. Seeing the whole world, of course, may never be possible, so now I will attempt to cook my way through the places we’ve seen by writing a cook book.

Where to begin? I start in chronological order from 1998 from where we’ve lived and visited. I wrote a 3 course meal for each place and I hope you will enjoy all of it with me.

About the Photos: All the photography was done by me in our dining room. I did an online food photography workshop and felt intimidated by all the ISO, fStop, “chasing the light” and various technical settings. Then my husband bought me a Canon EOS Rebel T6 and things became ridiculously simple. It has a food photography setting! I’m sure the professionals will giggle in their sleeves a little at my use of one setting, but it is what is working for me at this present moment and it is all about living in the moment, right?

The exception is Craig’s photos and bonus recipe. He designed the recipe, made it, did the plate styling and took the photos and I feel proud to put it on my cover page, to share the recipe as a bonus and to do this right at the beginning of the book.

For the photos of my dishes in the book, follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1628371950571257.1073741946.100001954022091&type=1&l=0c877bdc43

Images from my book. All photos taken by me, unless otherwise noted. The names of the dishes with the recipes will be…

Posted by Johanna Harlen on Wednesday, July 19, 2017

2 thoughts on “HAVE FOOD WILL TRAVEL

  1. You are amazing Johanna, so excited and happy for you!!
    You all doing ok with all the rain? Your area has not been in the news, so I’m hoping all is well.
    Such a tragedy what is happening in Texas…
    We have a very short stop in Houston in November enroute to Panama.
    Any chance you would want to meet up with us in either place? : -)
    Houston Nov 9th and 10th, panama city Nov 11 through 14th and then we are spending 10 days exploring Panama. So excited! : -)
    Hope to catch up with you somewhere soon.


    1. Thank you! We’re outside of the mess. Just getting normal amounts of rain. Not a great fan of Houston. Too much traffic & I panic 🙂 I’d love to go to Panama. Will see how it goes with finance, as we have a ton of travel next year. You go to spectacular places. Have fun ❤


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