For example, one of my favorite restaurants in South Africa is Cape Town’s Buitenverwachting (pronounced sort of like Beau – tin – fur – vugg – ting, where the ‘gg’ is the typical Dutch sound that sound like clearing one’s throat.). It means “Beyond Expectation.” It was originally part of the Constantia wine estate which was founded in 1684 by the Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel.
Here is a current winter menu from the elegant restaurant at Buitenverwachting.
Winter Special Soul Warmers
Cape Malay pickled Fish Salad
Seared Ostrich in Pumpkin Seeds with a Mesclun Salad
Endive Salad with caramelised Pear & Gorgonzola Polenta
Creamy Butternut Soup with roasted Beef Brisket Ravioli
Fish & Chips
Chicken Curry with Indian Delights
Wiener Schnitzel with Potato Salad, Parsley Potatoes or Chips
Braised Springbok Shank with Servietten Knödel
Milk Tart with Sour Cherry Compote & Milk Foam
Malva Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream
Spägat Krapfen with Caramel Mouse & Raspberry Coulis
~A la Carte~
Starters – R 49 ($6.50)
Mains – R 116 ($15)
Desserts – R 39 ($5.75)
2-Course – R 149 ($20)
3-Course – R 169 ($23)
4-Course – R 199 ($27)
A glass of Buitenverwachting Buiten Blanc or Meifort is served with any set menu option from the Soul Warmer menu.
As an interesting aside, it was never acknowledged in my history classes in apartheid South Africa that Simon van der Stel was of mixed blood (Dutch and Indian), what South Africans refer to as Coloured. One of the bastions of Afrikanderdom, the town of Stellenbosch, is named after him.
|Leg of lamb|
This fare was typical of my English-speaking friends. At that time, most Afrikaners (typically of Dutch descent and usually farmers, or boers) ate farm fare. Plenty of meat, potatoes, and whatever vegetables that were available.
The only exception to our normal regimen was when the family went away to the Natal coast on holiday – usually in July to avoid the oppressive summer heat of December and January. Almost all hotels on the Natal coast had chefs of Indian descent. Large numbers of Indians had been brought to South Africa to work on the sugar cane fields, and with them they brought their curries. My brothers and I always befriended the cooks and shared their own food, which was hot and delicious.
So curry is a big part of South African cuisine now and is widely popular among all but the Black groups. Indian restaurants are plentiful and serve a variety of dishes.
Growing up, I knew very little about what Blacks considered normal fare. Now I know that one of the most popular dishes is pap (pronounced ‘pup’), which is a stiff corn porridge eaten with fingers and dipped it into either a meat gravy or a tomato-onion sauce. This is widespread throughout southern Africa. As one would expect, there is a variety of ways of preparing the pap and numerous variations of sauces. It is gradually finding its way into White households, usually at a braaivleis (or braai), which is the South African barbeque. More on that later.
To my palate, the tastiest South African food is called Cape Malay cuisine. It originated way back in the 1600s and 1700s, when the Dutch brought slaves to work at the Cape mainly from Indonesia. Although I love Indian curries, the spicing of Cape Malay cuisine is more subtle. It is perhaps the only really South African cuisine.
Here follows Stanley’s recipe – a closely guarded secret!
2 lbs (1kg) ground lamb (Works with beef also, but not as good)
1 slice bread
3 cups milk
1 medium yellow or white onion chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tart apple grated
1 cup seedless raisins
½ cup slivered almonds
Several bay leaves
1. Put bread into bowl containing all the milk. Let stand.
2. Lightly brown the meat in a skillet, breaking up any chunks. Transfer to large container with slotted spoon.
3. Cook onion in remaining fat in skillet until translucent. Don’t burn!
4. Add curry powder, salt, sugar, and pepper to taste. I suggest 2 tablespoons of curry powder to start - more can be added any time up to step 7. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add lemon juice to moisten. Cook for a few more minutes. Pour over meat.
5. Take bread out of milk and squeeze out the milk back into the bowl. Put bread with meat.
6. Add raisins, almonds, and apple to meat. Add 2 eggs to meat. Combine. (I use my hands to do this because it feels great and I can lick my fingers afterwards!)
7. Pack the mixture into a casserole dish.
8. Combine the remaining two eggs with the milk and pour over meat.
9. Push a few bay leaves into the meat.
10. Cook for 45 minutes at 300° F.
Serve hot over yellow rice, with chutney on the side. Leftovers are great hot or cold. Also leftovers can be put in pita bread with sour cream or used as a filling in an omelette. Yummy.
|Typical braai fare|
And now I am ravenous. Got to run and find something to nibble – probably a pizza and beer. After all I am in the United States.
Stan - Thursday
PS. The invitation still stands - come and visit South Africa and enjoy the landscapes, the animals, the people, AND the food.