July 17, 2011 Leave a comment
Cape Town to Jozi with Alix Jane
Thoughts about thoughts (about?)
May 15, 2011 Leave a comment
I was lucky enough to go to the the Franshhoek Literary Festival over this wintry weekend, and attended a panel discussion titled A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread:
Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness -
And Wilderness is Paradise enow
Omar Khayyám (1048–1131)
Anna Trapido (Hunger for Freedom), J-P Rossouw (Tasting the Cape) and Michael Olvier (A Restaurateur Remembers) chatted with Hillary Biller of the Sunday Times about food, restaurants and simple cooking. But the enduring thought for me was of the strange case of South African cooking.
We cook incredible food – in our homes. But we shun it at restaurants. In fact, the only ‘South African’ restaurants are of the Afro-Disney variety
Anna Trapido’s take on this was that we need to “sort out our national identity before it can manifest itself on a plate”. She tells of how amasi made in the traditional way is almost impossible to find because the sale of unpasteurised milk is illegal, yet how it is a highly popular South African food.
Why is it that we embrace the cuisine of other cultures, but not our own? What is our cuisine?
Also, does this matter?
PS if you know of any restaurants serving great SA food, please let me know!
PPS Go to Dutch East in Franschhoek, it may not be SA fare, but it is a religious experience
February 14, 2011 Leave a comment
THE LONE AFRICAN EXPLORER drags his kayak ashore and begins to collect firewood from around the little beach on the left bank of the White Nile. It’s April 10, 2007, and the day’s descent of some of the continent’s most powerful rapids has worn him to exhaustion. But he can’t sleep. Not without fire. He’s also careful not to stray beyond the jungle’s green curtain—this is Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park, after all, home to the world’s densest populations of hippopotamus and Nile crocodile, one an extremely territorial 4,500-pound vegetarian with six-inch dagger tusks and the other a voracious 12-foot-long opportunist.
The explorer is Johannes Hendrik Coetzee, 32 years old, five feet eleven, with a thick build and a receding hairline shaved to skin. He’s a former South African Defence Force medic and a giant in the world of whitewater exploration, having organized and led a historic source-to-sea descent of the Nile in 2004. Though he’s charismatic and charming, the kind of guy who changes the gravity in any room he enters, he now prefers to travel alone. Four elite teams have descended Murchison’s two-day section of Class V water before now, and Coetzee was on three of them. But nobody had ever tried it solo before this trip.
Now he sparks his fire in the quickening equatorial dusk, a lonely prick of light in a nearly 1,500-square-mile “chunk of untamed African savanna bisected by the mighty river Nile,” as the park’s literature proclaims. Below him, the river drops ferociously over a roughly 30-mile stretch before abruptly reaching the unrunnable 140-foot Murchison Falls itself, at the edge of the Rift Valley escarpment. The only humans this deep in the park are the rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army, which controls the right bank of the river and has, since 1987, been attempting to replace the Ugandan government with a strict Christian theocracy.
Hendri, as he’s called, is an obsessive chronicler of his adventures. He takes mental notes that he’ll later type into his laptop journal. Across the river, a big storm that’s filling the sky is approaching. It’s still far off and I sit and watch the lightning until it reaches me.
Barefoot as always, he feels vulnerable, but not afraid. I ask myself, Are you ready to die? I give it some serious thought. I believe I am. I look back on my life, and I feel satisfied.
Read the rest here: Hendrik Coetzee | OutsideOnline.com.