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Crunch Time

Mignon du Preez: 'In India, I made sure to try out different curries, but it has to be mild'

The South Africa batter on the importance of the occasional cheat meal, and her love of braai

"Travelling as a cricketer gives you the opportunity to experience the cuisine and cultures of other nations, so when we were in India, I made sure to try out different curries"  •  Getty Images

"Travelling as a cricketer gives you the opportunity to experience the cuisine and cultures of other nations, so when we were in India, I made sure to try out different curries"  •  Getty Images

In a new series, Crunch Time, we look for more literal answers to the age old question - what fuels a cricketer?
What do you like eating most in any given week?
Braaivleis. That's probably because I'm South African, we all like to eat braai. Around the world, braai is known more as barbecue. I am a big meat-eater, so if I can have meat during my meal, I'm always happy and it puts a smile on my face.
Of all the venues you've played in to date, where did you find the food most delicious?
During the 2017 ODI World Cup [in England], Leicester County Cricket Club served us delicious food. At the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium in Surat, where we played in 2019, I loved the Indian delicacies.
As far as cooking goes, what would be your claim to fame?
I think my husband would say cannelloni. That's one of his favourites and I enjoy making cannelloni. And if I am pressed for time I go for something Mexican, like a fajita or a burrito bowl. It's quick, easy, and delicious.
Are you the best cook in the family?
No (laughs). I've been on tour so often and been playing cricket most of the time, I am grateful that my mom did most of the cooking. It was only after I got married that I realised, "Whoopsie! Mom's not around, so I've got to step up." I've got a few go-to meals, but every time I get back, I feel like I've forgotten everything. I don't remember how to make the food! So we just then have to make a braai and I stick to a side salad, which is pretty easy.
If you could pick one team-mate to cook meals for you for one year straight, who would that be?
I'd go for a WBBL team-mate, in the Melbourne Stars family: Holly Ferling. She's made some really good food for us on tour and she's extremely good at baking. I have got a sweet tooth, so if I've got to be stuck with a team-mate for 365 days, she'll spoil me.
What sort of fast food is allowed in the South Africa women's team?
The biggest thing about fast food is [that it] is processed. You can try to stay away from processed food and instead eat real ingredients when it's freshly made. In South Africa and elsewhere we've got Nando's, which is a really healthy option. You can get good flame-grilled chicken.
That being said, I do feel every now and then you've got to spoil yourself, just be human, and have that occasional cheat meal. I'm big on treating myself. For me, it could be a pizza or a pasta. The point is just don't overdo it or do it too often.
South Africa will host the 2023 Women's T20 World Cup. What is the one local dish you would like for Cricket South Africa to put on the menu for all visiting teams?
I would go for two options. The potjiekos - it's a South African delicacy similar to a stew. It has meats and vegetables and other ingredients. We make it in a big black pot and the dish is more about the social aspect of eating because the pot is surrounded by people and we do it at nice events, like, when we watch rugby. You start the pot early. It takes about three-four hours, so it's a big social gathering.
The other one I'd go for is bobotie. It's essentially milk and eggs and minced meat - it's something really you need to try. It's very sweet. As for the dessert, I'd suggest either the milk tart or the peppermint crisp tart.
During overseas tours, do you stick to a specific kind of meal?
I like to mix it up a little bit. In pre-match meals, I probably have to look for a bit more brain food, eat something like a nice pasta. For me to perform, I am a big meat-eater, so I try and make sure I get in some sort of meat in my meals. Also, travelling as a cricketer gives you the opportunity to experience the cuisine and cultures of other nations, so when we were, say, in India, I made sure to try out different curries. But it has to be mild (laughs) - I can't do anything too hot and spicy. Variety is the spice of life, so it's good to get accustomed to whatever people in the other host nations eat, to try different things.
Have you had to remove certain foods from your diet due to professional reasons?
As I mentioned earlier, I've got a sweet tooth, so for me it's about trying to limit the intake of treats. I'm big on chocolates and desserts. In terms of keeping fit and healthy, we've got a few requirements, so I've got to make sure I reduce the intake, but I wouldn't say I cut it out completely.
What's your favourite post-workout snack?
I like to have a chocolate steri stumpie. In South Africa, it's basically like drinking chocolate milk. There's no fat. When it's really cold, it's nice and refreshing. Milk is good for you post-workout, so we enjoy that. If I have to look at a smoothie, I'd say I enjoy a peanut butter and frozen blueberry smoothie. That's my go-to option.

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha