Athena Lamberis

Posts Tagged ‘durban’

Top Ten South African Foods to Try While Visiting South Africa

In Stories, Travel on April 11, 2013 at 14:53

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What do people eat in South Africa? 

I came to study in South Africa, Education, Sociolinguistics and Ethnographic Research to be exact.  After I got accepted into the program, my google searches involved, surfing South Africa, capoeira South Africa and food South Africa.

Firstly, I didn’t know anything about surfing–I grew up in Chicago. I spent summers visiting my Yiayia in Greece and went to university in Michigan the rest of the year where bodies of water were mostly frozen or used for summer water-skiing.  I was pro at balancing on swimming pool floatation devices.  I could also be found getting tan through Adriatic sea reflection on Grecian pebble shorelines.  It was December in East Lansing.  The type of cold that makes your hair grow back inside it’s follicle and remain ingrown until May.  Gore-Tex isn’t just used on Patagonia slopes, it’s essential to wear while you walk to your 10:15 lecture.

Surfing South Africa to me meant warm sub-tropical weather and a romanticized idea of surfing.  Instead of knowing what kinds of waves a surfer like me would surf, I thought the site with South African surf slang was more interesting.  It was a foreign language.  I had no clue or what jargon they were even referring to, so I changed my search terms.  I thought-warm ocean, waves to learn surfing, a new university on the ocean for six months…get fit.  After printing out recommended surf workouts, I quickly learned my shoulders were made for shoveling snow. My paddling could take me around a pond in Michigan, but I didn’t know ocean waves.

So I thought about capoeira.

I didn’t know much about capoeira except that my brother and friends had been going to classes in Chicago for years.   The year before, I went to Rio de Janeiro. I loved to watch and sing in the rodas in Ilha Grande.

Back at MSU, My African Studies class was so broad the only hint of a food/cultural reference to South Africa was the professor’s cravings for Portuguese bakeries in Kwa-Zulu Natal.  When I looked up capoeira, I found a student class, Capoeira Na Praia, at University of KwaZulu Natal. I was excited to play capoeira there since I wasn’t the surfer girl I thought I was. I was the girl who would most likely wear a brasilian bikini and chew sugarcane on the beach while collecting shells to make necklaces. At least I knew I would be getting in on the feijoada fundraising dinners with the capoeira club, but South African food–what is it? What else besides this Portuguese bakery is going to be in South Africa? What delicious foods are in South Africa?

Years later, I’m still learning the many tastes of South African food.  I ended up marrying the surfer who taught me capoeira, who fed me Johnny’s Roti’s at 4am while I made brincadeiros in his mom’s Cypriot kitchen.

I didn’t know much about the food in South Africa when I arrived but I will share with you what I have learned along the way.  There are so many foods that are worth celebrating.  South African Flavour is unique and layered.  The modest list below is just a few staples for any visitor to know and love.

The Culinary Linguist | Boerwors | Food in #SouthAfrica

Top ten foods to try:

  1. Curried sugar bean Bunny chow

It’s beyond what Panera bread company tried to do.  Edible bread bowls at their best plus you could get a history lesson through every bite.  Many generations of Indian labourers sat down and ate that very homemade meal at lunch break during the days of Ghandi’s presence in South Africa.  This food tradition continues today and is found all over the country. The Culinary Linguist | Durban Curry Bunny Chow in South Africa and Recipe

2. Johnny’s Sunrise Rotis/ Mariam’s Salomies

The Culinary Linguist | Gatsby Sandwich | Food in #SouthAfrica

The Gatsby Sandwich Baby Hold. Onlookers are amused or just hungry while they wait for theirs?

The Culinary Linguist | Salomie |  Food in #South Africa

Salomie Bite

Roti’s in some provinces, salomies with puff pastry style wraps in the Western Cape.  Whether it comes with mutton garam masala stew or corn, chips and cheese–order it and love it and ask your favourite local where to get the best.

3.Boerewors on a braai

It’s farmer’s beef sausage. You can get fancy with it and chow it with a roll, but it’s plain perfect off the BBQ, try it with a squeeze of lemon on top while it’s hot.  Get some with cumin or fennel mixed in, or try an ostrich version for variety.

4. Masala steak Gatsby sandwich

Don’t try to finish is alone, this sandwich, like the Johnny’s Roti is large enough to carry in a stroller.  I personally like the Masala steak but the Calamari and Chip Gatsby is scrumptious if you’re by the sea.

5. Sugarcane juice, litchis (lychee) and spicy pineapple

Freshly squeezed on Durban’s beachfront, sugarcane juice with lemon is the way lemonade should taste.  Litchi’s (Lychee) hanging of the trees in December and spicy pineapple on kebab sticks at the beach bring your sunburn to a tickling heat.

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6. Mealie bread (isinkwa sombila)

Help light the firewood, peel the mealies and get to work grinding them into a pulp to add to the flour.  This traditional pot bread is worth working for.

7. Peri-Peri chicken or prawns

So I never found portuguese bakeries that my professor spoke about, but I did learn about Mozambiquean cuisine and African bird’s eye chilis (Peri-Peri or Piri-Piri) is added to heat every bite of your flavourful meal.The Culinary Linguist | Raw Oysters | Food in #SouthAfrica


8. Oysters

Wild Coast, KZN, Knysna, Namibian–makes me want to have a mermaid’s lunch everyday and boost my zinc levels.

9. Samp and Beans (istambu)

A staple and standard that ClifBars should be made of.  Protein and Carbs at their best.

10. Malva pudding

The toffee sticky pudding on most menus at unpretentious South Africa food dives.  With custard or ice cream, or even the store bought Woolworth’s version makes you go ‘mmmmmmmmmmm.’

There are so many more foods to rave about, but these staples are a must for first time South African food tasters.  More lists to come . . .

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Share. Cook. Love: The Cook Book

In Events, Friend's Kitchens, Recipe, Stories on August 5, 2012 at 15:53

Athena and Chris on The Culinary Linguists blog #cookbook

Our story began 2005, Feb 14th.

Durban, South Africa.  A Surfer met a Gypsy at Capoeira class.  It was a Monday, after the first day of our third year at University.

7 years later, in the province where it all began, we told everyone we loved to join us for a festival of families, a love

celebration . . . our wedding.

Friends and family came as far as California, Thailand, Belgium and Detroit. And on the Monday before our wedding I was given the most thoughtful and loving gift.

My sister, Koko, compiled a recipe book that she titled:

A collection of recipes on The Culinary Linguists blog #cookbook

Share. Cook. Love

The cookbook

Gathered by the women that love you.

As I opened this gift at my surprise Kitchen Tea, it felt as though my heart was reliving my most touching memories-an overwhelming feeling of love washed over me and misted my eyes.  I paged through over 50 recipes of family and friends that represented so many facets in my life.  From friends that were celebrating our marriage from afar, in Brasil, New York, Chicago and Nicaragua- I was able hear their voice through their shared words and recipes.  This cookbook was made for me and the diversity in dishes and loving varieties directly reflected the beautiful community of women in my life.  From dressings, to desserts, every tradition and recipe chosen for my own personal anthology of culinary linguists will be cherished throughout my life.

Now when I am missing my family and friends and want to create and cook from my heart–I can thank everyone who contributed to this emblem of friendship and love.  As a bride, it was a collage of memory that reverberated through my heart and now as a wife, it is a personal love resource from all the sisters and mothers that I get to celebrate with.  I have years of memory and new memories to look forward to, by creating edible creations curated by them.

This is culinary linguists at it’s best: a true example of love.

My family recipe contributors on The Culinary Linguists blog #cookbook

My mom, sister, myself and mamabel

Athena and Chris Wedding Day on The Culinary Linguists blog #wedding

Our wedding day June 30th

Athena and Chris on The Culinary Linguists blog #love

the day before our wedding day

The recipe book on The Culinary Linguists blog #cookbook

Diving into the culinary linguists!

Athena and Koko on The Culinary Linguists blog #family

Koko and I in 1984

Athena, Bride to be on The Culinary Linguists blog #wedding belindaandAthenakitchenteakitchenteainDurban Wedding Stationary Athena and Chris on The Culinary Linguists blog #wedding Athena and Chris' reception on The Culinary Linguists blog #wedding

Semi-Sweet Film Food Documentary: Life in Chocolate

In Events on July 28, 2012 at 10:36

It’s 37 degrees in Paris while Patrick Roger’s chocolatier workshop is busy transporting his sculpture of a Orangutan made of chocolate.

Chocolate melts at 37 degrees, the same as our body’s temperature.  Roger explains: “Chocolate acts the way we do . . . It’s a love story.”  Roger’s story amongst others features in the food documentary: Semi-Sweet, Life in Chocolate.

Image It’s African premiere at the Durban International Film Festival gave viewers the chance to travel to three continents and hear multiple perspectives around the complex chocolate sphere.  The director, Michael Allcock and producer, Lalita Krishna immersed themselves in the art, politics, production and conflicting ideals on the chocolate coated topic. This documentary took four years to find the most compelling tales that showcase our relationships within the world of Chocolate.

“Someone promised us a better life  . . . And because of that we almost lost ours,” are the words from the young girls who chose to leave their home in Mali.  Many children are recruited to cross the border into Cote d’Ivoire for the promise of earning money on the cacao plantations.

Cote d’Ivoire produces nearly half of the world’s cacao and most are collected by the hands of young children. The film showcases the stories of youth who were lured by plantation recruiters to earn money that they could never imagine attaining if they stayed in their villages of Burkina Faso or Mali.  Most youths that chose to escape to a empty promise land lose their lives due to the conditions on the fields.  80% of pesticides used on the fields are banned in most countries and poison the workers, amongst other working hazards.

A young man who had survived the harsh conditions on the plantations was given some chocolate to taste after he confessed “Frankly, I do not know what they use cacao for.”

It reminded me of an image that speaks so clearly to what their stories portrayed:

Bustart image via GetGroundedTV

From the plantation field, “If you get tired, it’s not like you can rest.  There’s a quota and you have to get it.”

The film’s powerful choice to reveal the stories of these young workers allows viewers and activists to wake up to the real effect of consumer power, money and the faceted influence it has on lives that live close to the natural resource.

The truths of gross labour from the voices of these children reveal the dichotomy of youth that collect chocolate from pinatas, Halloween bags and Christmas stockings.

The film introduces the world of Hershey, Pennsylvania where Milton Hershey built a fictitious world that breeds naive ignorance since 1903.  Interviews with Hershey’s Public Relations and Marketing Managers expose a honest oblivion to the effects of mass corporate consumerism.  Hershey’s profile plays an interesting role in the film, as the town anthropomorphizes into both a naive narrow-minded child and the enabling greedy Uncle.

Sip through the jetstreams to Northern Ontario, Haliburton and your eyes and ears feast on the poetry of Ron and Nadine, raw food enthusiasts and producers of raw handmade chocolate concoctions of Living Libations.    “. . . They played and played until nectar was made.” exclaims Ron and his confessions of love for his craft.  Light-heartedly, I giggled during scenes of him marketing their ‘out of this world’ chocolate, to the NASA caterers for moon missions.  David Wolfe visits their Secret Land of Is, and dives into the food history of cacao, the value it had as currency until 1886 and the health benefits of this concentrated anti-oxidant tree.

Semi-sweet is Culinary Linguistics at the heart-using media to illustrate the language of chocolate that highlight the diverse realities on such a valuable food resource.  This is a great film to add to the top must-see food documentaries that evoke awareness and call for change.

Any suggestions of films, please share.   Here are some nice lists on great food sites: Lettuce Eat Kale, The Good Human

A Durban Curry Bunny Chow Heat Feast in Cape Town

In Events, Friend's Kitchens, Recipe on January 15, 2012 at 09:34

Durban Curry Bunny Chow on The Culinary Linguist Blog #South AfricaClimate change and Durban curry?  What do they have in common?

It’s the only meal that will cool you down when a sub-tropical heatwave rolls through Cape Town.  A humid blanket covered the the whole city.  To survive the heat, we consumed the heat.  We invited our friends and a self-proclaimed Durban curry chef to bring their favorite curry ingredients, unsliced white bread and their swimming costumes.  Together, we sat by the pool regulating our body temperatures until the heat feast began.  Here’s a sneak peak of all the spicy humid harmony that was sprinkled

around the house:

Durban Curry Bunny Chow Pool Party on The Culinary Linguist Blog #South Africa

Pimm’s lemonade and soda

Olives, kuhestan’s persoan pickled lime served with cucumber slices

Banana, coconut sambal

Raita

Onion, tomato, dhania, red/yellow/green pepper/red cabbage with lemon or rice vinegar

Nice ‘n Spicy Natal Indian Masala Curry

Guy cooked for ten of us in two pots, frying the onions in oil until golden brown, together with garlic and ginger and the spices from Nice ‘n Spice.

Keeping it orginal and true to Durban bunny chow, there was chicken and potato added and cooked together to make a nice thick curry stew.

Here is a sample recipe to try at home as per Nice ‘n Spicy spice packets:

1 kg diced beef, mutton or chicken

1/4 cup oil for frying

2 chopped medium onions

4 cloves garlic crushed

1 small piece ginger root grated

10 curry leaves optional

1 tsp salt

1 TB sugar

2 large ripe tomatoes chopped

4 potatoes peeled and cubed

1/4cup chopped coriander leaves

15 grams Nice ‘n Spicy Masala curry mix

Courtesy of www.agnet.co.za/nicenspice

Curry is best if cooked the day before and allowed to develop its full flavour overnight in the refrigerator.  We didn’t wait and left no curry drop behind.  We used bread as our utensils and wiped every flavour from the dishes clean.

Check out the behind the scenes on the slideshow:

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Love and Local Produce on the Umtamvuna River Bank

In Events, Travel on August 1, 2011 at 09:58

We found it, one part wild, one part green, two parts water and three parts love.  The place we plan to get married and celebrate the love adventure and journey up ahead.  And it has been ever evolving into a beautiful recipe with such variations and discoveries, the metaphor for love found in the chemistry of the right geographical elements.

Two verveet monkeys played together as joyful greeting to our arrival from the winding road. The sparkle from the Umtamvuna river bed bounced light from the 2 o’clock sun. I knew, we had arrived.  Ses’fikile.

The road leading to the river lodge gave signs of all the gifts this fertile bank offers, eventhough, the word Umtamvuna has been translated as the “Reaper of Mouthfuls” due to river floods that had taken away crops from the people farming on the banks.  Farm stalls lined Izingolweni Road with signs of seasonal produce available: Macadamia, Pecans, Cashews, Bananas, Oranges, Lemons, Butternut, Spinach and Cabbage.

There was also free range inkhukhu chicken eggs and a variety of locally produced preserves, sauces, biltong, etc.  This all made my heart beat with happiness-cause it was evident that we can have a deliciously seasonal and locally produced wedding feast for our loved ones celebrating and supporting us in our marriage.  I was a kid in a candy store, only my tastes have evolved. I was drooling over the cappuccino cream we tasted at Beaver Creek Farm and the freshly cracked Macadamia nuts we sampled in its raw flavourful delight.

Food variations and feast ideas came popping into our heads and I felt so grateful for the possibility of it all coming into place.  I’ll keep you updated on the menu ideas we have up our sleeve.  I’m so happy it’s citrus season which will be very useful to make the Tequila and Tortilla Bar happen!

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