Friday, 30 July 2010

Waterblommetjies in die Kaap

( waterblommetjies gently lolling in fresh water)

Tonight I've cooked for friends who are about to emigrate. My heart aches and so does theirs. But tonight is not about sadness. We haven't seen them for a long time and we love their company. And our friendship will always be. No matter the distance. And while others in the Great Emigration Debate play the Blame Game; harshly judging those who decide to relocate, or by being fiercely negative about South Africa, thankfully in our friendship there is neither. You have to get to that space in order for a friendship to still be.
I recently read Kevin Bloom's heartbreaking and inspirational book Ways of Staying. And I'm glad I did. Read it. If you can. If you're battling to find some answers. If you're brave enough.
So what do you give to friends who are and will always be South African? And who are going through the torment of leaving? I made them a Waterblommetjiebredie. (translated as a Water Hawthorne or Cape Pondweed stew, but please don't ever use the translation, it really doesn't do this local delicacy justice). Waterblommetjies have strongly scented flowers, but they are valued for their fleshy edible bulbs, and can still be found in streams, small rivers, and you used to be able to buy them along the side of the road. It's slightly dodgy these days, what with pollution and all, so its probably best to buy them from suppliers who specifically grow them. I bought mine from Fruit and Veg City.
My mom, who is very picky about these things insists that once you've bought them you have to rinse them well, preferably overnight. She taught me to pick off the short stalk, split the bulb in two, rinse under running water and then leave to soak overnight. If they are to be used in a stew, as I intended, you steam then with a bit of water and a splash of lemon juice (in the old days, a few stalks of suurings (wild sorrel) would have been used, but where do you finds these nowadays? As a child we used to pick them off the school fields and eat the sour stalks. Strange the things one remembers?)

Anyway, waterblommetjiebredie is a simple stew to make.
Brown the lamb knuckles in a bit of oil with salt and pepper and if you like some seasoning.
Then remove from the pot and allow to rest.
In the sticky, meaty residue, add a splash more olive oil and brown some onions with plenty of garlic.
Then add the browned lamb knuckle pieces to the onions in the large pot again. Adding beef stock ( I like the strong meaty flavour of it) and water and allow to stew.
Keep on adding water so that the stew is nice and runny, and beef stock if you think it necessary - to taste obviously.
Allow the stew to softly simmer and rest. I always add a bit more pepper because I like the slightly peppery taste.
When the meat is softening nicely after an hour or so, add small peeled potatoes, and allow to simmer some more.
Lastly add the steamed waterblommetjies about 5 minutes before serving, so that they do not become too soft and mushy.
Serve with boiled rice.
If this stew seems to haphazard for you, use your own basic lamb stew recipe, remembering to keep it simple.
The subtle flavour of the waterblommetjie is supposed to be the hero, here.
But follow my instructions for the waterblommetjies, both the cleaning bit and then lightly steaming it before adding it to the stew at the last minute. I don't know much, but I know this.

We ate the bredie with a beautiful bottle of Secateurs 2006 Red, from AA Badenhorst Family Wines, made by our mutual friend, the divinely gifted Adi Badenhorst. And afterwards we ate koeksusters bought from Melissa's in Kloof Street, and tiny milk tarts from Woolies. A South African celebration.

The waterblommetjiebredie was my gift to them. A gift I know they understood.Because in our culture, when the sadness is too severe, we feed one another. Lin Yutang once said, 'What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child.'
Waterblommetjies, koeksuster, melktert. When all else is lost, the flavours remain.

© woorde en musiek: Anton Goosen







Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Great Calm Karoo

(The Owl House Garden)

(The Brewery and Two Goats Deli)

Hmm, this is the entry I wanted to write while there, in situ. But no, as reported previously Vodacom thingymajig did not work as promised. So now our visit to Nieu-Bethesda and Helen Martin's (and to be fair Koos Malgas's) Owl House seems like a long time ago... But our road trip was wonderful. The is something magical about the Klein and Groot Karoo. It's seeming desolation, it's stark beauty. It's haunting silences. One full moon night in Nieu-Bethesda, we were walking the streets with Max, when the local donkey cart and driver clip-clopped past. And on a sunny morning Jacques wound up the clock in the clock tower of the old impressive Dutch Reformed Church.
We walked the dusty roads, explored the graveyard and missed our friend, the artist, the late Adriaan van Zyl whose painting of graves are so very very beautiful and so very very sad. And we read books. And drank wine. And were in bed by 8 o'clock ever night, because the nights were cold, and that is the way of the Karoo. The Simple Life.... Where you breathe differently. Deeply.
And we had a memorable afternoon at The Brewery and Two Goats Deli, where Andre brews his own beer, makes his own cheeses and roasts his own coffee. Where the milk served with the coffee is sweet and creamy and delicious and quite unlike any milk I have ever tasted before. His fare was authentic. Perfectly presented, with homemade relishes - his beetroot relish is sublime - freshly baked farm bread. And so we lazily spent the faternoon there, dinking cold beer in the hot sun, and watching Max play in the water of the lei voor. Perfection.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

The Cakeman Cometh

Jacques is thrilled to be home. Me? Not so much. Max? Even less. But the home-loving Cancerian in our household has spent the day tidying the study (ie. bookshelves arranged so that his books enjoy prime position), and criticizing the way I pack the pantry. Max is restless and seems to be pining for the Karoo. While all I can think of is the 8.30 am interview I've set up for Monday morning, and the work promised to a friend. In short, I have the Sunday Blues. I'd like a huge glass of red wine and a couple of uninterrupted hours of Brothers & Sisters, followed by CSI. In other words I am in a vegetative state. Max is sulking. And Jacques has put us both to shame. And baked a Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Icing from Cakebread's book Cakes to Celebrate Love and Life. And it is glorious. So we sat drinking hot tea and eating warm cake on our stoep and listened to the surrounding city sounds. And maybe, just perhaps, there are better things to do on a Sunday night than drink wine and watch TV...

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Padkos and Pit Stops

(A road sign worth considering)

(The Real Thing)

( At the coalface)

(Aunty M and her Assistant Roadside Baker)

If I was more of a kitchen kitty, I would have been up early on the morning of our departure of our road trip. I would have been making flasks of tea, carefully wrapping freshly baked muffins,putting thin slices of pastrami in cooler bags and sorting out Max's doggy treats. Instead I was bitching (silently, of course, because Jacques can't deal with my moaning about my weight anymore and always offers the oh-so-unhelpful advice of 'Expend more calories than you take in. Simple mathematics.' As if I were bloody algebra...) about how I now need to pack more clothes these days than I did when I was happy with my weight, because wraps and butt-covering thingies take up much more space than a pair of Levi's and a sweater. So there was no padkos (road food) prepared. Nothing to remind us of the road trips of our childhood. Nothing to evoke the memory of blue hard boiled eggs, cold chicken legs wrapped in foil and slices of pink polony sweating in tupperware. Instead I left us at the mercy of garage convenience food. Not that I'm averse to the odd Wimpy burger and pink milkshake, but petrol burgers do take their toll.
Which is why our car came to a screeching halt just outside Oudtshoorn when we saw the sign for Tannie M's Roosterbrood. (Could be translated as grill bread; bread 'baked' on the grill (rooster) of a fire). It's not like toast. And it's not like freshly baked bread. It's something between the two. A slightly chewy, somewhat tasteless flat roll cut open and served with whatever you choose. Cheese, bacon, eggs, minced meat etc. But every time I've had it, I've always gone for the most basic option. Margarine ( which under normal circumstances I loathe, but somehow under these conditions and when butter is unavailable) is the perfect accompaniment to the ubiquitous sweet, shop bought tinned apricot jam. The two melt sublimely into the warm bread. Tannie M's was as good, if not better than I had ever tasted. If If Italian ciabatta can costR40 a pop in a suburban deli in town, then surely R9 for some local flavour is a small price to pay on the long dusty road. Especially when served with as side order of Karoo banter.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Road Trip

Despite all my good intentions to blog about our Road Trip (With Dog), the Vodacom wireless- thingy has failed me, so this is a quick post from an internet cafe in Graaff-Reinet to say I'll be back home tomorrow and will put up all the photos and news... And whoever the philosophers were who said 'It's not about the destination it's about the journey', clearly never travelled with a panting ( and very hot) labrador. But life is good, even if lunch today is at the Wimpy...

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Twitter & Twisted

( Twitter or May The Blue Bird of Happinesss... yadda yadda yadda...)

I know that sometime, somehow, I am going to drag my sorry ass back to William-The Conquerer for a Pilates class. My friend Mari-Louis, who I thought liked me, sent me a text message a while ago. 'I am sponsoring your first session with torturer Thursday. Expect the worst.' it read. followed by another one, 'Hee hee voel soos bitch in soapy. Hy gaan jou opfok.' Charming. But how bad could it be? Other friends do pilates and tell me how relaxing it is, all that stretching and deep breathing... So I went. And then I spent the entire weekend with a hot water bottle clutched to my stomach. My mother suspected an ectopic pregnancy. I feared the worse and complained so much that Jacques suggested I go for a scan to rule out any medical abnormalities. When all it really was, because 3 days later the pain was gone, was that I had exercised my stomach muscles, which in itself was a medical marvel because I didn't now I had any.
Anyway, last weekend I met up with Heather Parker at Majeka House in Stellenbosch (ex Cosmo and Shape editor, and now editor of Health 24) and she was looking fabulous, svelte, radiant and very loved up. It transpires that not only had she recently celebrated a milestone birthday, but she had also completed the Argus Cycle Tour this year. And while in the past I may have been slightly intimidated by her, ( my issues, not hers) I am now inspired by her. And even thoughI have no wish to cycle around the block, never mind, Ou Kaapse Weg, she makes fitness and having a healthy, happy body seem within my reach. So logging on to her blog, for further inspiration this afternoon, I instead found her directing me to something wonderful on Twitter. Now, I don't Tweet, and while I may have caught onto all the Twittering, I gave my Blackberry to Jacques after only one day, as it was just way too complicated for a technophobe like me. But if you google a Twit's name and the word Twitter, you will be able to read the Tweets that normally come via the fancier phones on your computer...(does any of this make sense?)

I am now totally hooked, thanks to Heather, on a man ( who I suspect is also a foodie) named Arjun Basu who writes the most beautiful 140 character short stories.

On 16th July he tweeted the following story:

He took her to a restaurant where the waiters worked naked and the chef specialized in artisanal sausages. I'm not eating dessert, she said

Other offerings were:

And then everything fell apart. His dreams lost. The echo of her final, angry word lingered in the room. But she knew he hated green pepper


She heard him fumble with the keys at the front door and she sat on the kitchen counter as he entered. She smiled. Dinner's ready, she said


She was the prettiest woman he'd been with. And the date was going well. Until she put ketchup on her hot dog. Then he couldn't look at her

So today I embrace inspiration. Perspiration ( and pilates) can wait for another day....

Milnerton Market and Perfect Pancakes

(Table Mountain (what else) and the Milnerton Market )

(Trawling for treasure))

(Jan Maastenbroek - making his legendary pancakes)

My pancake addiction is well documented. As is my fondness for the Milnerton market. Wedged between the harbour railway line and industrial Paarden Island, this is where I trawl for Voortrekker Monument centenary bowls and vintage glass Murano ashtrays. It is also where Jan Maastenbroek, an ex-systems analyst/computer programmer has been making and selling pancakes for the last 11 years. He has a specially rigged caravan and usually makes between 400 -500 pancakes a day on weekends and public holidays. He mixes enormous quantities of batter with a specially modified electric drill and paint mixer in large industrial sized buckets. His pancakes are perfect. lightly dusted with cinnamon sugar and a light spray of lemon juice. He is a popular member of the market community, and the tiny tables and cushioned stools around his caravan are in high demand. He sells, tea and coffee, old-fashioned toasted sandwiches as well as homemade ginger beer. But his pancakes are The Business. The past few times I've been to the market he hasn't been there and I left feeling hard done by, even though each time I cradled a successfully acquired small brown and cream bowl, or pieces of heavy coloured glass. But yesterday, he was there, and upon enquiring he told me that yes he hadn't been at the market for some time, as he had been extremely ill. But that time spent in hospital undergoing surgery and treatment meant that he was now well again. And very grateful to be alive. There was a radiance about him. His joy and gratitude at being well and back at the market was clearly evident. We ordered two pancakes each. And then went back for more. Life is too short not to.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Like Clockwork Orange

(Oranges are not the only fruit. - but for now they are. Apologies to Jeanette Winterson)

My friend Hannetjie de Clercq, a wonderful artist and fabulous foodie, once made me her version of a Sicilian Orange Salad for my birthday. The contrasting tastes are surprising. On paper they shouldn't work, but in the mouth they certainly do.
I think that traditionally the Sicilians would use Blood Oranges, and some recipes suggest using fennel and onions with it. But this is Hannetjie's recipe, it's the way she taught me to make it and I'm sticking to it. It's the perfect winter salad - guaranteed to fight of all germs with the lashings of vitamin C and the cure-all presence of garlic. I think it could work well with a pork roast. Or otherwise eat it just so on unexpectedly sunny days.

Once again no exact measurements...for a Sicilian Orange Salad for about 4 people.
About 6 oranges (carefully peeled to remove any pith, and if you're so inclined, you can remove the pips as well) cut up into small chunks (don't be lazy and use segments, I think it's best that the juice runs out and mingles)
A glug of good olive oil.
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped.
Some fresh origanum ( if you can find it, otherwise use some of the dried stuff)

I know it sounds weird. I was hesitant at first as well. But the flavours sort of dance in your mouth. A bit like a tango, which is vaguely unsettling, and then settles into an exotic, hypnotic rhythm, which stays with you long after you've gone home. (Some would argue that this is due to the strong smell of the garlic. Pay no attention to them. I don't.)

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Mia Mine

( Our Mia...blond curls, blue eyes and loads of attitude)

This is Mia, my brother's firstborn. She is also my Godchild. I adore her, and have done so from the first moment I laid eyes on her. I cried when I saw her for the first time, and promised that I would love and protect her always. I also knew that in addition to being her Auntie Good Times ( which involves lots of bling, a pink tutu, pink boots and inappropriate plastic high-heeled Cinderella shoes) I wanted her to look up to me as an example of womanhood, but it so happens that at 2 years of age, she is teaching me some valuable lessons.
One is that she loves her very curly, sometimes unruly hair. And insists that it stay the way it is. After bathing her, my wonderful sister-in-law, Pat, combs and flattens Mia's hair in a tidy 'do'. After which Mia,walks straight to the mirror, puts her hands in her hair and fluffs it up again. The way she likes it. The way her hair is supposed to be. As small as she is, Mia is choosing to look like herself.
The other thing she does, and her mother must take credit for allowing this, is that although she is a little girl with an extremely healthy appetite, when she has had enough of anything, she stops eating and says, 'Klaar.' (Finished) And then she eats no more. She does not have to clean the plate. She knows when she has had enough to eat, is in tune with her small tummy and tiny body. She eats well and until she is satisfied. But when she's has enough it's klaar.
I am struggling to learn these lessons. Of self-acceptance. And of listening to my body. And I desperately hope that I will succeed, so that one day, if and when (and God willing she never does) Mia comes to me for comfort and reassurance, I will be able to remind her of the lessons she taught me when she was only just 2 years old.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Gorgeously Gooey.

(My meringues)

( Meringue Mom Marie)

I once offended a baker at a food market by asking if the meringues he was selling were 'nice and sticky' on the inside. 'Lyk ek vir jou asof ek kak meringues bak?! Translated: 'Do I look like I make crap meringues?!' So clearly meringues, Pavlova being the only exception, should not be sticky on the inside. But sadly that's how I like them. Which means that I give the hugely generous, non-sticky sugary French meringues a big miss, unlike my mom, who buys and eats two as can be seen in this photo taken in Lourmarin. So when I do buy meringues, I open the packet and leave them for a day or two, before I eat them. I am, after all, such a sophisticated creature.
But last night, having made ice-cream and been left with 4 egg whites which I was about to throw away, I suddenly decided to google meringue recipes. There were many complicated, intimidating ones, but a few looked easy enough, especially those with only two ingredients.
So here is my version. But seriously, I wouldn't try and beat it by hand. Way too much trouble. I used the beautiful cherry red KitchenAid Mixer that I received for my 40th birthday last year. But you can use, whatever electrical thingy that you have.

Ingredients for about 12 meringues:
4 egg whites
8 tablespoons of Caster sugar

Preheat oven to 100 degrees C
Whisk egg whites until the mixture forms soft peaks.
While whisking gradually add the sugar, spoon by spoon, until quite stiff peaks are formed.
Scoop the blobs out and place on a baking tray and bake for about 1 1/2 hours - 2 hours.

These meringues were, according to my low standards, quite sublime. Nice and sticky. In fact I have never quite tasted anything as sweetly magical as hot meringues straight of out the oven - all warm, sticky, sugary chewiness. Perhaps, I never baked them long enough, but in that case I hope I never do...
I loved the way they looked on our kitchen counter , 12 organically shaped glistening pearlescent cream blobs, prettily proving that I am slowly, slowly making my way in the kitchen.
Now, I know this doesn't much look like I'm trying to lose weight or to eat healthily, but I'm enjoying making peace with food, and overcoming my kitchen fears. It's a weird way of doing this, I know, but then, occasionally weird is good. Like my mom choosing to eat two large meringues for lunch instead of lovely steak-frites when in Provence.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Majeka Magic ( And Diet-Ice-Cream)

(The Majeka way. Gilt frames are the way to go if one must have a TV in the bedroom)

Max survived his first night without us. In fact I doubt he even knew we were gone, having been looked after by an oh-so-efficient combination of Mary Poppins and Mrs Doubtfire. In her typically no-nonsense fashion Mary told me to leave the puppy and stop being neurotic.

So upon arriving at Majeka House in Stellenbosch, I was sorely in need of decent bubbly and good company. Of which there was plenty. It's been a while ( 4 years to be exact) since I was invited to a media sleepover, and I'd forgotten how much fun it could be. Nothing like a 5* establishment to quickly get back into the swing of things. Staying at Majeka House (recommended and described by Conde Nast Traveller as 'a sleek , modern affordable boutique hotel' , and they should know) is like staying at the residence of fabulously wealthy friends. And having them spoil you rotten. Friends whose estate includes a spectacular health spa, indoor swimming pool, and hundreds of rose bushes. A home where a high thread count and lashings of Moyo bath products are taken for granted. A home with a private chef who finds her inspiration in France in the kitchen of a Michelin starred chef and who create the most fabulous dishes for you. Dinner on this particular Friday night was a 5-course tasting menu with specially selected wine, served at a long table narrow table under twinkling black chandeliers. Hosts Lloyd van der Merwe and Karine Dequeker-Van der Merwe are warm and entertaining hosts who know how to throw a good party. And having eaten way too well and too much, I admitted to being on a Non-Diet and Karine confessed to eating ice-cream every day. Well not even I would go that far. So she shared the secret and promised to send me the recipe.

Anyway, yesterday Karine sent me the ice-cream recipe, which I made this afternoon, having gone to the health shop to buy the Xylotol and Guar Gum. I've not told Jacques about the scary ingredients, but I'm hoping he'll not know the difference. I've tried it, and while I thought I'd still prefer Haagen Dazs or Ben & Jerry's, which I do, because ice-cream is meant to be sinful and decadent, I am rather surprised by this one. I just won't be eating that much of it. And that kind of freaks me out. Why does ice-cream lose it's appeal when it's not fattening? Or am I afraid of the Xylotol - which is only a Birch Bark extract after all? It's not even full of chemicals and according to Wikipedia it also has only marginally less calories than sugar... 9.6 calories per teaspoon as opposed to 15 for sugar. So why bother you might ask? Because this ice-cream is really good - a smooth custardy vanilla ice-cream. And because now that I've learned to make it, I'll do it again. Because I'm becoming quite the Kitchen Goddess...

Here is Karine's recipe for ' the magic diet ice cream' :

500ml low fat or fat free milk

3 vanilla pods / or essence

4 egg yolk

80g of Xylotol

Pinch of guar flour

Can find both Xylotol and Guar flour in pharmacies or health shops

Heat the milk & vanilla until close to boiling, meantime whisk until almost white the xylotol, egg yolk and guar flour.

Once the milk is about to boil, pour a little of it over the egg mixture and whisk to avoid the eggs to cook, pour this back onto the rest of the milk and leave on the heat whilst it thickens. Once it is thick like a “crème anglaise”, let it cool, then place it for ½ hour in the fridge, followed by ½ in the freezer and then in your ice cream machine for another ½ hour.


You can also add 80% chocolate to the milk to keep it healthy, or nuts, whole fruits, fruit compote at the end of the freezing process.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Candied Jewels

(Delice in the Dubai mall in Dubai)

( Nicky and I)
( sweet detail)

I've just finished packing for an overnight stay in Stellenbosch. Max has a baby-dog-sitter, and this is our first night away from him... Am feeling a bit funny about it. Am of course overcompensating by feeding him loads of treats , unpacking his special toys, and generally acting like an angst-ridden mother. And I have to get over myself, because as Jacques reminds me, 'he's just a dog'. But he is a special dog, so I allow myself to feel a bit of separation anxiety..
Anyway as I was packing my some jewellery into a small box I use for that purpose, smiled, remembering where I had originally got the box from and recalled a lovely afternoon spent with my friend Nicky when I visited her in Dubai last year. She took me to this fabulous confectioner in The Dubai Mall called Delice. The shop was drop-dead gorgeous, looked like beautiful jewellery store with all the sweets created to look like intricate jewel-like works of art. White padded leather, crystal chandeliers, glass and mirrors. Ravishing. Nicky bought me a box of four, which came wrapped as if we'd just been shopping at Graff and we shared them -half a bite each. And I can't recall if they tasted as good as they looked, in fact I'm almost sure they didn't. But they didn't have to, because the moment was sweet enough.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Putting on the Pasta Puttanesca

( The back streets of Naples)

Jerry Hall apparently once said the following 'My mother said it was simple to keep a man, you must be a maid in the living room, a cook in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom'. Hmm, considering the fact that her ex, Mick Jagger, is now rolling his stones elsewhere, perhaps she should have ignored her Texan mother's advice and listened to the women of Naples instead. And been a tart in the kitchen...
The way I was last night, when I presented my husband with steaming bowls of spicy Pasta Puttanesca. In plain English; the whore's pasta. Legend has it that once upon a time in Naples, this robust pasta dish was made by the 'ladies of easy virtue'. The ingredients were always at hand, it was quick enough to make in between seeing clients, and substantial enough to share with a favoured 'gentleman caller'. It's a saucy pasta with a saucy name. Enjoyed with a good, (or even a mediocre) bottle of red, this is the sort of pasta dish you prepare when you really, really have something better to do...

My cobbled together version for 4 people or 2 greedy ones:

A few glugs of olive oil.
Finely chopped fresh garlic (as much as you like, I tend to overdo it, which is also ok)
Finely chopped chili (don't be afraid of chili, there are enough other flavours to balance it, and it really warms the mouth rather than burns it)
Simmer in a pot (but don't burn the garlic, as it becomes bitter)
Add 2 cans of tomatoes and allow to simmer for about 15 more minutes
Then chop up 10 anchovies (or a few more if you like a more pungent taste) and add to the sauce.
Lastly add a handful of capers
And about 2 handfuls of pitted black olives
Simmer for a couple of minutes
Serve with pasta of your choice. I like penne. Some say serve with parsley, but I'm not partial to parsley, so I leave it out.

Bad girls in the kitchen get to do as they like.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Lets Play Ball

(Barefootball Number W23272)
(Our Max and my ball)

I haven't been inspired to cook the past few days. Instead we spent a gourmet birthday party weekend with friends in Riebeek-Kasteel, and then on the way home stopped off in Blouberg for an impromptu Boerewors Roll Sunday at my parent's home. Another one of my favourite sunny-in-the-middle-of-winter days where the pleasure is enhanced by the presence of a tired-from-running-on-the-beach dog and the gloriously happy giggling of my 2-year old niece Mia, and the soft-snuffling of my newborn namesake nephew Sam. So apologies for no learning-to-cook or trying-to-get-thin updates... But I have found two things well worth shopping for and found them to be marginally better than a cheese toastie...
My mom and I spent the day together yesterday looking for jeans that fit well ( Yay for Woolworths Magic Jeans which promise to flatten the tummy by up to 3cm... I know I know, but every bit helps) and drinking coffee.
Anyway, while at the Woolies cafe, (Decaf skinny latte with an artistic and well-executed heart on the milky foam) I noticed the barefootball.
Now I am completely inspired by the World Cup and I have apologized profusely to the universe for having doubted that South Africa could host something on this scale, and yes I was afraid of the influx of football hooligans, and the potential for an escalation in crime, and the traffic issues, and the hiked restaurant prices, and the parking problems and blah blah blah blah blah. None of which seems to have been a problem, instead I have seen my country through the eyes of foreigners and am extremely proud to be an African. I have walked the Fan Walk, attended the Holland -Cameroon game, spoken football to strangers, learned about hand balls, and generally got into the spirit of things. WITHOUT having bought or blown a single vuvuzela! Now, I really don't have a problem with the African Horn, I just don't want to blow or own one. What I would like is one of those crazily elaborate headgear as worn by South African soccer fans, but I've not been able to find one within my budget. What I have found is the barefootball, made from recycled material and selling for R50, which I think is the perfect reminder of the 2010 World Cup. Created from waste material and made by by crafters in the disadvantaged communities, these balls embody all the best of African ingenuity and creativity. All profits from sales of these balls are put back into the project and the community. They are no gimmick, or FIFA approved souvenir, they are replicas of hundreds of thousands of soccer balls made by hand and whatever waste material can be found throughout Africa by impoverished people wanting to play ball. As I drive along the N2, I am always humbled and moved by the children playing along the side of the highway playing on makeshift fields with makeshift goals and whatever can pass for a ball. Along the N2 sweaty soccer excitement and joy and laughter battle against and temporarily drive away sadness and hopelessness. It's all about the ball...

Buy yours at Vida e Caffe or at the Woolworths W Cafe's.

PS. Ali, would you like me to buy a couple for Dr Du Toit's study in Glasgow?

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Pretty is As Pretty Does

(Connie and Nicci)
Miss Connie (as she is known to some of her friends) always looks as if she's stepped out of an Italian Vogue -but softer - because of all her silvery-blonde gorgeousness. She is, without a doubt, the most stylish creature EVER to come out of Bloemfontein. And yesterday we heard how excited she was that Mick Jagger had visited her hometown, singing God Save The Queen nogal. Reason to celebrate, I would think. Not that that was the reason Nicci and I were invited to tea; this was no formal, grand, special occasion tea. She had simply invited us to drop in for a cup of tea at 4 o'clock. But what charmed me was the way she had set the table with lovely pink and gold cups, cake forks for the goodies from Melissa's (sticky florentines, dried purple figs, slices of heavy chocolate cake and substantial cheese cake) pretty napkins, and burning candles. She cared enough to make things nice. Connie is that sort of girl.