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

WATERBLOMMETJIES IN DIE BOLAND
WATERBLOMMETJIES IN DIE KAAP
MAAK DIE BREDIE NET SOOS IN DIE WYNLAND
EN SÊ JY'S BAIE LIEF VIR MY
VOOR JY GAAN SLAAP

DAARDIE WIND WAAI WEER BY MY VOORDEUR IN
HY MAAK MY HART WEER LEKKER SING
DIS GAAF OM DIE KAAP WEER DAG TE SÊ
EK VAT JOU SAAM NA DIE KORINGLAND
WIE RY SAAM AS MY HART SO BRAND
DIS LEKKER OM DIE BOLAND LIEF TE HÊ

VAN HUNKS HET WEER SY PYP GESTOP
TAFELBERG SE HOED IS OP
EN DIE BERGIES BEGIN AL HUIS SE KANT TOE STAAN
GROENPUNTTORING KNIP SY OOG
DIE SUIDOOS MAAK SO 'N WYE BOOG
EN DIE WAALPAD HELP JOU AS JY HUIS TOE GAAN

O DIE LUGGIE HIER IS VRY
WAAR MY HART HEELTYD WIL BLY
EN EK WIL MY LANGS OU MIES VICTORIA
NEER GAAN VLY
LAAT ONS DEUR DIE TUINE LOOP
BY DIE PARADE IETS GAAN KOOP
AS DIE WIND KOUD WAAI
LAAT EK GOU EERS JOU JAS VASKNOOP

O KAAP, O KAAP, O MOOISTE KAAP
JY MAAK MY HART WEER BAIE SEER
JOU GHANTANG KOM MOS ALTYD WEER EN WEER
DIE MAYFLOWER HET UITGEVAAR
EN GAAN SNOEK HAAL DAAR BY HOUTBAAI WAAR
KARBONKELBERG DIE STORMSEE GEWAAR

DRIE SKEPSELS HET BY DASSIEPUNT
NA DIE STER GEKYK EN TEEN DIE WIND IN
VOETGESLAAN EN DIE STRALEKRANS AANGEGEE
EN HUL'T TERUGGEKEER NA TAFELBAAAI
EN OP DUIWELSPIEK VIR DIE ENGEL GEWAAI
EN DIE ENGEL HET 'N TRAAN UIT SY OË GEVEE

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