I am sitting in Kalahari, Clarkson and am surrounded by biltong, droëwors, Mrs. Balls chutney, All Gold Tomato Sauce, Spur pink sauce, Oros cordial, Wilsons Cream Caramels, Ouma’s dunking rusks (the Aussie name for beskuit) and Simba chippies!
None of those taste sensations really draws me anymore. The 17th of August 2015 was our 7 year anniversary in Australia. My memories of once favourite South African cuisine have dwindled to potjiekos and Sunday family dinners of rys, vleis en aartappels.
These days I cook with quinoa, and spaghetti squashes. I zoodle my zucchinis and I eat kangaroo! ‘Stru! I have fallen in love with biting the two opposite corners off a TimTam biscuit and sucking the coffee through the bikkie (biscuit). I make my own raw chocolate and yes, we have a gas bbq! (Oh the horror of horrors!)
But there are days, days when I come to have a cuppa (koppie tee) in this little coffee shop at the back of Bunnings (the Builders Wharehouse of Australia) when I remember the moerske muffins of Mug and Bean (are they still so big?) and I wish that koeksisters were not so expensive, because how can you eat only one at a go? (I used to wake up at night and sneak a koeksister skelmpies out of my mum’s deepfreeze and the syrup would still be dripping.) Or I remember the bigger than big Pizza’s at Mario’s in Bloemfontein, or the Springbokkie and Sambuca volcano shooters we had at Blues restaurant in Welkom. And I do miss Rita se beskuit that we used to buy at our local Spar. Oh, and the chillies chips of the take away shop near the show grounds in Welkom.
These memories are not frequent. In fact they are becoming less and less these days. It may be because I have not been back to South Africa in five years. It may also be that we have embraced this country and their way of doing things. We now do bbq’s on electric braais in the parks while the kids run around and chase each other with sticks. We do sausage sizzles at Bunnings, which is a thin sausage bbq’ed on a gas plate, with copious amounts of onion and barbecue sauce sandwiched not in a bun, but in a slice of bread folded into a triangle. We buy a 50c ice-cream at the Macca’s and go watch the sun set.
Dear Migrant to the Great South Land,
you do not have to think of skelm plekkies in you golf bag or even golf shoes where you can hide your biltong (the guys at customs love our biltong and they will immediately know if you try and smuggle some in) or your Cross and Blackwell Mayonnaise. You will be able to buy it here. Yes, you can do your happy dance now.
Many have made their own biltong boxes and proudly have tasting tests where the best one must be decided. You will be able to buy boerewors at many of the Coles, Woolworths, some butchers and all of the South African shops. If you do not like theirs, you could always try and make your own.
I even have the recipe for Mrs. Balls chutney. Yes, in the beginning I cooked my own chutney, because what the Aussies call chutney is not what we would call chutney.
I have not been able to find a tuisnywerheid yet, but just ask around and there will be a tannie who will be able to supply in your hankering for a lekker melktert.
Still, I want to challenge you to try new things. Try a sausage sizzle, drink your coffee through a TimTam. Braai on a gas bbq. Try the local beers, there are too many names to mention. Try kangaroo – it is venison and makes a mean dried fruit potjie.
You are after all in a new country, with new things. This is an adventure. Stretch your comfort zone a bit.
Enjoy your journey, and hope to share a snag with you soon, combine that with a proper chinwag, and we are good, mate!