Things South African: food and humour

As I mentioned in my previous post, my website is undergoing a make-over as I’m consolidating my writing workload.  I’m working on populating my web pages with interesting material for my readers and followers. Like this video I posted on my media page by South African comedian, Trevor Noah:

Noah’s humour ties into what I’ve written in my memoir, An Immoral Proposal. It’s only now, post-apartheid that the racial playing field in South Africa is level, we can laugh at how diabolical apartheid was.  As stand-up comedy is relatively new to South Africa’s young democracy, Noah, the product of a white father and Xhosa mother, has gained international fame drawing on his experiences growing up under apartheid.  In January, 2012,  Noah became the first South African stand-up comedian to appear on The Tonight Show and a year later on the Late Show with David Letterman. Click on my media page to see more videos.

In my book,  An Immoral Proposal, I write about my grandmother’s culinary prowess. Raised by her,  I’ve inherited the knack of cooking by instinct. Like many talented Capetonian cooks, I blend my herbs and spices very much like paint on an artist’s palette when marrying them up to tantalize the taste buds. I’m in the process of putting together an e-recipe book featuring favourite traditional recipes of Cape Town. The “Mother City’s” culinary history dates back to the 17th century when Malaysian prisoners under the watch of their white colonial masters set foot on South Africa’s shores from European colonized Java and neighbouring Indonesian spice islands.

These talented slaves made a huge cultural contribution to Cape Town, especially in the food area. They introduced exciting blends of spices, tastes and textures to the bland fare of their European masters. Dishes like bobotie (a fusion of curried, sweet and sour, ground lamb topped with a savoury egg custard layer) is today a national favourite.

South African bobotie

South African bobotie

Any self-respecting South African cook knows virtually by heart how to make bobotie – each one putting his/her own spin on it.  Other favourites like bredie and sosatie derived from the Malay-Portugese cookery vocabulary.  While most of these recipes were ostensibly handed down orally, I do remember my grandmother’s Croxley hardcover exercise book with favourite recipes scribbled down in pencil. The Malay slaves passed down that inherent knowledge of subtly spice-infused food cooked by “feel.”  It’s the knowing instinctively, for instance, to add the tiniest pinch of  ground cloves to your meatloaf that sets apart Capetonian cooks from others.

Every month I offer the Recipe of the Month.  This month’s recipe is the “smoortjie.”  To find out about this dish please subscribe to the Recipe of the Month box on the right and let me know when you’ve made it and how you liked it.