We had a day of winter last week so I bought a bag of waterblommetjies at the Spar. It felt like bredie time. And with such an oldskool dish I consulted my newly acquired C. Louis Liepoldt cookbook Kos vir die kenner, a book with over 1000 recipes that proves that at least one Afrikaner knew what mirepoix was in the 1930’s. Afrikaners, nay all white folk, may have benefited from Apartheid economically but culturally, it dumbed us down something awful. Like rocks on an island.
Savvy as Leipoldt was, cousin J warned that his book had to be taken with a pinch of salt. ‘Some of his combos are dreadful.’ Waterblommetjiebredie is a dish best prepared with restraint. Don’t innovate or deviate. It’s just blommetjies, lamb, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Maybe potato. She’s the queen bee of bredies. Leipoldt provides a few options and recommended the addition of anchovy, which I fell for. He advocates the use of suurings – those soft little wild stems with pink flowers that we used to eat as kids, before toxic sourworms hit the scene – to add zing to the stew. It rained cats and dogs so instead of picking suurings, I zested a lemon and added a bit of juice later.
But the blommetjies… Leipoldt wouldn’t have touched the gnarly old Spar blommetjies. My buds looked like cold-chain cadavers but at least they were picked early enough (pre-bloom). Soak them in vinegar water, rinse under a fast-flowing tap, top and tail the gnawed, tough bits and they should do.