South Africa is known to beguile and bewitch for her spectacular sunsets, breathtaking beaches, unsurpassed mountainous beauty and wildlife and a host of other treasures. Did you know that besides the awesome summer festivals, it is the iconic foods and essential culinary treats that one must savour to really experience the holiday breaks? Ever tasted skewered pineapples tossed in a light vinaigrette of vinegar, sugar and salt with a fine dusting of paprika? Mouthwatering right?
SA Summer is not summer without fat juicy water-melons. Bought whole or quartered by families, it is a sensually cool delight. Kids love it , especially if Moms slice them into shapes. Can be frozen and dropped into ice cold water as a refreshing drink for socials on the patio.
Our Durban’s Blue Lagoon has traders that special in fried mealies or sweetcorn. Seasoned in aromat, butter, paprika or plain salt, it is a warm treat served with a spoon, ideally with a mint/nut chutney spread. Sometimes, if we are lucky, we find mealies boiled in drums. Sounds primitive but our elders who’ve passed this on, latched onto a superb idea. Mealies in hand, we traipse through the markets content.
Ally, the local trader, specializes in samoosas, three cornered deep fried pastries stuffed with an assortment of fillings guaranteed to tease the palate. Your choice, be it mince, sweetcorn & cheese, chicken or curried potatoes samoosas served with a red spicy chilli sauce. As Rick Stein would say, ”mind-blowing!”
For the traditionalists out to watch the rugby or soccer at the nearby Moses Mahbida surrounds, rich dried and spiced meat, aka biltong, is a must. Made of beef or kudu, its available almost everywhere but especially at the travelling carts. Ice cold beers are the best drinks to enjoy with biltong.
Again, food on the run, the aromas of boerewors rolls will tempt even the strongest. Such is the popularity of them, that our local Shoprite and Pick n Pay stores have competitions to suss out the best wors (fat long pockets of stuffed meat). Served in a bun with onion rings and a dripping sauce, it’s the ideal “on-the-go” meal. Satisfaction guaranteed. As an extra nibbly, remember the “slap chips” which is basically French fries tossed in spices. Ideal for the vegetarians or for those abstaining for religious reasons.
Looking to tuck into something more substantial? Chalk your heightened cravings to the sea air, despite having eaten earlier! Govenders House of Bunnies have won many competitions for the travelling lunches. A bunny is a hollowed out portion of bread filled with curry, be it meat, chicken or vegetables. One cannot leave Durban without partaking of this meal, it’s a staple Durban delight, found at most curry dens.
Fed up of the street or comfort food and looking for a light salad topped with avocado and bacon, head on down to the entrance of the local shopping centre, Pick n Pay, where savvy traders sell a bag of four avocados for a mere R25. Too much avo for you, then settle them singularly into brown bags to ripen over time, it lasts for at least two weeks.
Litchies, glorious red pockets of sweet fruits are a must. No need to worry about the sticky fingers. A firm favourite, litchis bought from farm traders are infinitely preferred as those compared to purchases in a supermarket. It will be the best R40 spent.
Should you spot a person bent over a three-legged pot, know that, that is potjie kos. A braised choice cuts of seasoned meats in a stew like sauce topped with vegetables, potatoes or chunks of butternut cooked over a slow fire. Ideal anytime but especially for the occasional wintry day.
Another wintry or any day treat would be the nuts that we purchase. Sold at R25 for a big jam tins, nuts are boiled and salted at home. For a quick fix, they can be sourced from our Stables Lifestyle Market, a stone throw away from our recreational hotspot, the Blue Lagoon,
It would be remiss of me to forget our traditional braaivleis or shisanyama, the ultimate cooking social event over coals. American barbecue equals South African braai. Luscious lamb chops, sizzling steaks, spicy sausages and boerewors tenderly turned over, served with salads and a chakalaka (vegetable relish) sauce.
As a child, I remember family picnics and campovers at our Park Rynie Beach. We’d flock over, family, friends, neighbours, anybody who was keen on camping was welcome. It was the only time, children were content to awaken at 3am, the best spots had to be sourced and blankets and practically everything but the kitchen sink, would be carted to the beach. Back them, fancy deli or tuna & mayo sandwiches were out of the question. Sandwiches crammed with a filling of tinned fish, onions and chillies on butter bread were the order of the day. As children, we’d open them out and extract the chillies and still, spiciness aside, it was the best sandwich. There may be sandwiches of boiled eggs but the tinned fish ones made memories. The proper meals were prized breyani’s prepared, best thing ever, wrapped tightly for security and warmth. Now too, the breyani is a firm favourite though secured this time, in pot warmers….that too available conveniently from passing pedestrian traders.
Amazing food, good music, great friends, shared history and natural landscapes, our South African Rainbow Nation has it all, we are truly blessed.