NO ORDINARY MIDNIGHT SNACK
YOU South Africa|27 January 2022
Chef and food writer Errieda du Toit shares her sleepwalking adventures and the interesting dishes she creates before she wakes
CYRIL BLACKBURN
IT’S just before midnight when she shuffles down the passage in the dark. She stops in the kitchen, mutters to herself, then opens the fridge door. She takes out a few things and puts them on the kitchen counter. Then she starts fixing a meal.

First she makes a milkshake with Marmite and then she garnishes a rice cake with soup powder – strange combos indeed.

You’d think TV chef and food writer Errieda du Toit knows her way around a kitchen but she isn’t even aware of the weird dishes she’s creating.

She’s fast asleep.

Errieda (65) is a sleepwalker and often makes strange concoctions while she’s fast asleep.

She comes up with dishes she’d never dream of making when awake: toffee with cottage cheese and soup powder; toasted cheese sandwiches with sardines and caramel sauce; rice cakes with nougat, cheddar and coffee beans.

Once she even attempted to carve biltong in a coffee grinder.

“You should see her,” chuckles her husband, Ian (63).

“She inspects the dish from every angle then makes a whole show of garnishing it – it’s very theatrical.”

And he should know. Not only has he seen it with his own eyes, Ian has also started making video recordings of his wife’s nightly excursions to the kitchen.

Errieda has suffered from the sleep disorder for the past 20 years but says she and her husband are growing increasingly concerned by her culinary exploits.

Now she’s seeking help for the sleepwalking which sees her heading for the kitchen of her Welgemoed home in Cape Town four or five times a night.

When it first started, her sleepwalking was a bit of a joke between the couple. But when the pandemic arrived in 2020 her night walks increased in number – sometimes two nights in a row.

“It was as if the underlying stress of the pandemic was making everything worse,” she says.

The couple started worrying about her health and their physical safety. They’re concerned Errieda could burn down the house in her sleep. “When it was only happening once in a while, we could laugh it off,” she says.

“But I realised it’s actually a serious matter.”

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