Hola cariños! Shall we braai?

September 23rd, 2014 § 4 comments

Yes, hello darlings! I am back in the shadow of old Table Mountain. We’ve been back for all of ten weeks now. I wish I could regale you with glamorous tales of dipping into the culinary delights of Cape Town, or basking in it’s low-slung wintry sunsets on an expensive lounger taking selfies of my sunglassed self chugging MCC.

But alas, the Vixen is now a mother and life is a Clockword Orange of trying to make ends meet. Nappy ends. Dog leash and stroller straps. Baby meals and adult-friendly suppers. Is it just me or do other mothers of really active toddlers also habitually find themselves leaving the house with their belt ends hanging loose, like some limp invitation to a deadbeat disco?

I’ve made no secret of the fact that my food mojo all but deserted me during my years in Spain. Yes, THAT Spain. Land of tapas and Adria-inspired sorcery – the country that gave France the gastronomical uppercut and now flaunts the heavyweight title on the best of the best lists. How did I manage this, one might ask. Was I just a homesick African, and in particular a dwarstrekkerige Afrikaner, who did not want to succumb to the allure of The Other? Well, yes. And no.

I realised a lot of things these past three years. Too many for this blogpost. And much of it didn’t come easy. Like that I come from a culture draped in a luxury that takes too much and gives too little. And I´m not talking about South African politics. Although I could. I’m talking about the cow. And the pig. And especially the potato. The noble tomato deserves its own post.

I’m not proud to say I was often critical of Spanish culture because it seemed too simple, too locked in tradition and peaseant-like. Coming from a new world country where strains of European culture straddled ethnic traditions to create, with all this glorious sun-drenched land bursting with undepleted earth, a flashy frenzy where only the choicest bits are deemed edible. Waste, for we want not. A bit like America-lite, and I thank God for that. That we are the lite version, if nothing else.

I missed the designer packaging and bespoke modern-madame product development of Woolies terribly. Not to mention the shelves lined with fresh herbs (which I missed more than anything, herbs, precious herbs) all year round. BASIL, ALL YEAR ROUND! My kitchen Id shriveled to the size of a peanut. I was lost in a sea of stews seasoned with bay leaves, sloppy one-pot dinners and shit-you-can-put-in-a-wrap.

Inter-cultural culinary conundrums aside, I realise that having a baby (without the benefit of domestic help, or an ersatz mother, as is the case in SA) will grind many a bonny home cook to ashes in the first few years. South Africans so love to romanticize Euro-living but in reality, my time in Spain was more jabon jabon (soap) than jamon jamon…

Lesser spotted African dust devil

Just the other night I grafted some apples into the DNA of a stainless steel pot, plus had to abandon a bowl of grated potato to wrangle our lovebubble into his pajamas, only to return to a puddle of fashionably grey goop (now I know where Gwynneth got her blog name! Can I say ‘goop’, Gwynneth? Here, on my blog?) and although I have no Voortrekker blood (rough and ready overlanders who could teach the Scottish something about shafting the Queen), I bloody well fried those goop cakes just to see if temperature would redeem them to their previous state of potatoness. It didn’t.

Well anyway, where was I? AHA! Here in the Cape, where I want to be. And what a wondeful thing that is. So what now? I still have a very busy two year old and cooking a decent supper seems nigh impossible. But I do, finally, have a little garden and soon, I hope, a braai. And I think being here in Africa where open fires are not yet outlawed, I am going to go back to basics. Come summer, (which is pretty much like winter only with less rain and short sleeves YAAAY) I’m going to set up outdoors and grill away. I’m sure my son would love it. And I feel the need to start over. Small and raw. With the best this land has to offer. Real meat paired with crisp salad and sun-ripened veg*. With not too much fuss.

So this is just a short yet rambling hola! to say we are here. The new wave Cape Spanish have landed. It’s non-colonialism armed with roasted padron peppers, sharp cheese and ugly tomatoes that taste divine. My son’s first African word was ‘maroela’ (long story involving theft from CT International) and he yells PUSH without the H, so all’s good, on track – en lekker in die Kaap!

*No matter how many times you read this post backward, no subliminal banting recipes will be imparted.



§ 4 Responses to Hola cariños! Shall we braai?"

  • Corina says:

    Cariño, I love this post.

    And respect: I barely managed to cook dinner the other night with your child in my home. So to imagine you trying to wrangle him and make potatoes at the same time? Impossible.

    Look forward to those braais in your garden *cough* *cough*

    • admin says:

      Soon as I have the braai…and the garden furniture…and the grid and plates and and and you’re first in line. Do you have fire skills?

  • James says:

    Welcome back. A braai is a thing of beauty. Nothing cooler than a Mom tackling the fire duties. Enjoy!!

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