Posts Tagged ‘south africa’
“Is there rain and gale force winds on your side?”
“Okay, then we’ll meet you at the forest gate at 7:15”
In Cape Town, winter brings sloshy puddles and leaf layers on the forest floor. Mushrooms, like stars fallen from the galaxy, pop out of the ground in diverse shapes, forms, colours and size. This time from the first rains is when foragers, explorers, mushroom hunters spot various of funghi for identification, observation and if lucky, consumption.
The rain was still drizzling outside our home in Vredehoek while we drove with our hound, Enzo, to the Cecilia Forest in Cape Town. Brushed with a dark blue, the sky opened to the morning sun once we found our meeting place where Gary Goldman, the mushroom guru was waiting. Dreams of porcini, pine-rings and new forms of fungi were planted in our minds. What did the forest hold, and what were we going to find?
We carried baskets, pocket knives, and boldness onto the lower slopes of Table Mountain Reserve, with the comfort of having a teacher, Gary, to guide use through our questions of the forage. The dogs sensed excitement-the fresh smells fueled the pack to go in front of the path. Chris joined the front, and just over the barb-wire fence, what looked like a brown leaf was twisted out from the earth. The first find of the day was a porcini treasure, fragrant, firm and joyfully gathered.
Slippery logs laid in our path and speckled leaves lined the moving forest streams-more winter delights came in all different shapes and sizes as we weaved pass the gum tree forests and into pine, cork oak and poplar tree sections. What looked like a brown wood owl flew past us as we continued to collect poplar boletus, porcini, pine-rings and learned to identify a variety of parasite (grows on/from organic-living) and saphrophyte (grows on dead organic material) fungi. After two hours in the forest, my eyes became more aware of mycelia on trees and different fungi characteristics. I was beginning to confidently identify and learn distinctive features of about various mushrooms-my favorite being the saffron-coloured water that stains your hands when you squeeze a pine rings vs ‘a little brown mushroom.’
As we left the forest with happily-filled baskets, I was in awe of the complexity and beauty nature holds in a delicate yet robust web. With every step into our natural world, I learn more about how our environments flourish and where our food comes from. Proper identification, with desired aroma and taste adds a world of medicinal and culinary uses of mushrooms to my culinary linguistics. It’s been dated back to B.C. China, of humans foraging for mushrooms for added sustenance during winter months. I added another day to an ancient practice of mushroom eating history (mychophagy). Today, with the appetite for variety and with the help of a mushroom guru – I became a fungivore-survived and nourished.
Edible Sea Vegetable: SeaWeed
I confess, my kitchen turns into edible science experiments almost every day. Seaweed is my new ingredient in the kitchen lab. Once you get to know the nutritional facts and the familiar taste of popcorn it has when nori (a type of seaweed) is roasted on the fire, then you’ll definitely give this superfood a chance. When I first moved to Cape Town, I was mesmerised by the huge kelp forests that were washed onto the shorelines. On low tides, I observed the variety of seaweeds that clung to the rocks and naturally wondered, “Can we eat that?” You’ve probably already have if you’ve gone to a sushi joint or visit the snack aisle at an Asian supermarket. When we see an ingredient in it’s natural state – outside of a food product/market/restaurant, we’re often surprised by how it grows, what it looks like and what it may actually taste like? This is what I call the spark of our own natural whole food education, also known as the moment when our culinary linguistics expand. I’m a self proclaimed phyco-nerd. Phycology: Greek φῦκος, phykos, “seaweed”; and -λογία, -logia) is the scientific study of algae and was so happy to find fellow wild food foragers on the Cape Peninsula.
Beyond Basic Nutrition: Seaweed Benefits
Contains vitamin B12 (which is rarely found in plants)
- Rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, manganese (overall 13 vitamins, 20 amino acids, 60 trace mineral elements)
- Highest source of plant protein and zero calories
- It’s fiber is helpful for the digestive system, making you feel full and satiated
- Contains iodine which aids the function of the thyroid to release iodine in our blood to help prevent disease. Our bodies don’t make iodine so we have to get it through our food – why not seaweed?
- Reduces water retention and contains higher levels of calcium than beef and cow’s milk
- Natural occurring sodium that resembles human amniotic fluid
- Alkalinizes and purifies blood as it’s chemical composition is similar to the plasma in human blood
- Optimum nourishment for hormonal, lymphatic, urinary and nervous systems
Marine Flora: Wild and Crazy?
I was honestly hesitant to harvest seaweed in South Africa before doing a bit of research. I needed a bit of local knowledge to boost my confidence and to verify that I wasn’t the only crazy who wondered about eating ocean algae. If people in other parts of the world have seaweed-based cuisine, why aren’t we eating it here? Has there ever been a history of it in South Africa? Stay tuned for more about that in a future post.
I took my mom, one of my favorite foragers for whole foods, to Scarborough to learn more about the beautiful seaweed varieties available for us to harvest responsibly. In the quest of learning to harvest wild food, you also develop a respect and knowledge for conserving the ocean environment. I’ve found that becoming more aware of what makes a healthy flourishing balanced ecosystem allows me to make more educated decisions about harvesting and foraging wild foods in nature.
Some Foraging Facts
The Good Hope Nursery in Scarbororgh did such a great job in creatively sharing their experience in sustainably harvesting, tasting and creating with ocean seaweed. It was great to ask questions while enjoying the cosmetic and nutritional benefits of this sea vegetable. We were greeted on the shoreline with seaweed scones and spoke about the red, green and brown varieties of seaweed below our feet. Snippets of seaweed varieties such as kelp, wrack and ulva were gathered to ensure regrowth, conservation and abundance for our ecosystem (about 1/3 of what was growing on the rock near the tideline.) No random bits of floating seaweed was harvested, only healthy clean varieties that were attached to ocean rocks.
Edible Science: Seaweed Recipes
Since that positive coastal foraging experience, I’ve been able to share what I’ve learned along the way, convincing brave and even unadventurous eaters to enjoy the tasty healthy benefits of sea vegetables. On a recent trip to Elandsbaai, we harvested, rinsed and tossed nori in a bit of olive oil before placing it on a wood-burning fire. The result was super flakey, crunchy, tasty green seaweed snack. Get creative and incorporate seaweed in any of your favorite recipes for extra added health benefits. I’d love to hear more about what you discover.
- Two Oceans: A guide to the marine life of southern Africa
- Sustainable Seaweed Cooking by Prannie Rhatigan
- Healing Wise – A Wise Woman’s Herbal by Susun Weed
Mom would say, “Only eat 8 olives a day, honey.” But it was too easy to devour the salty Grecian delights by the dozen. With crusty brown sourdough bread and green virgin olive oil on a flat side plate, nothing satisfied me more than eating Yiayia’s Kalamatas olives in the middle of Chicago’s winter. To this day, I have a plate solely dedicated to olives and their pips and snack on these pickled fruits year round (and still by the dozen).
Growing up, I’d spin the bottom shelf of the cupboard to reveal Yiayia’s hand-picked, home-cured Kalamata olives. Purple, green and maroon olives floated in one gallon glass jars of oregano, thyme, vinegar and oil. As a kid, I was powerlifting the heavy 2 gallon olive jar off the bottom shelf and onto the counter in order to dip my tiny fingers into the oil and vinegar brine to search for the juiciest olives. As I got older, I’d use an oversized spoon to fish for the tangiest Kalamatas, and strain the brine from the spoon to reveal my bite-size snacks. When May arrived, it got harder for the spoon to fish for olives at the bottom of the jar. I’d spend the whole year snacking on the cured fruits and diminished our Greek food provisions we would smuggle in from Greece. The empty olive jar was an indicator that it wouldn’t be long before we would pack our dresses and sandals for the summer at Yiayia’s house. Mom would pack a suitcase within a suitcase when we travelled to Athens. In August, we would return to Chicago with more olives to fill the jar, and enough oregano to make the beagles sniff us out as drug smugglers.
Now, when May arrives I pick 10-20 kilos of Mission Olives around Cape Town, South Africa. My childhood love for enjoying home-cured olives, fills my own cupboards with a cultural joy and salty olive treats to share in memory of my grandmother’s tradition.
Every step of the curing processes makes me wonder of when and how people discovered this ancient practice.
Was it Athena’s olive tree branch that broke off during an autumn storm? The branch that fell into the river bed and carried it for weeks into the salty estuary of Poseidon’s sea. For weeks it may have soaked along the shores until a small family fishing boat arrived near Kalamata and came across the curing olive fruit branch floating in the water. If they tasted the divine harmony of the Greek Gods’ elements and discovered that the olive fruit tree was not just best for oil, wood and shade, but for it’s fruit too, then let that be the start of a nourishing tradition.
I have been learning about the whole benefits of the olive tree itself recently when I’m not making up mythological stories of food origins. 🙂
With all its rich phytonutrients and phytochemicals (phyto stems from the Greek word-plant), the medicinal compounds from the leaves, fruit, roots and stems, play a major role in fighting bacterial and viral infections/disease as well as boosting the immune system to prevent and treat flus and colds. The olive tree’s ancient medicinal presence is found in many religious texts such as the Qu’ran, Torah and Bible, and continues to feature in Internal Medicine Journals today.
The oleuropein (the bitter substance in olives) has been founded to inactivate bacteria, and display a number of other benefits in pharmacology research. Essentially, it is an herbal powerhouse effective for infectious and chronic health conditions. I like to use olive leaf extract or make olive leaf tea as a preventive agent in my overall health. Olive leaves are now a staple in my cupboard alongside cured olives. I’ve found ways to use olive leaves in many everyday uses by sprinkling the leaves in salads, porridge, soups, and breads. Don’t be surprised if I post an Olive leaf smoothie in the near future. I promise it wont be bitter!
For now, I would like to share some delicious combinations of flavours I’ve added to my curing olives over the years.
But first, there are a variety of ways to cure olives. Check out the Australian Olive Grower Issue #4 for some inspiration.
For the past three years, I have been roughly following a water bath recipe given to me by Francolin Farm.
1. After picking your olives, place rinsed olives in a net bag (the ones you store onion’s with) and put into a bucket and cover with water. Don’t pack olives too tightly and take care not to bruise them. I place my olives in a cooler box because it has a spout I can lift open to let the water drain. Some people save water by placing the olives on top of the toilet basin where fresh water gets drained everytime you flush. Others just fill their bathtub and drain it daily. It would be nice to find some use for your greywater (olive water) in your garden. If water shortage is an issue, fill jars with 50% salt and 50% olives. Gently turn and toss olive jars daily for 2-3 weeks. Rinse salt and fill jars again with 1 part salt and 10 parts water (see below for olive marinade flavours.)
2. Change water once or twice daily for 2-3 weeks. Simply lift the net bag with
olives out of the bucket and pour off water and replace in fresh water. Taste after two weeks and continue if it is still too bitter.
3. Dissolve 500 grams coarse salt in 5 litres boiling water. Allow to cool.
This mixture is sufficient for approx 2 ½ kilos of olives. Leave olives in this
brine solution undisturbed for one week. Taste, if bitter replace with fresh
brine solution and leave for a further week. I like to use non-iodized salt or kosher salt. The other ratio to use is 1 part salt to 10 parts water.
4. Rinse olives several times with fresh water. Cover with brown vinegar for
24 hours. Pour off vinegar and expose the olives to air overnight or a few hours
till dry. This brings the colour of the olives back to a deep purple/black. You may notice they lightened in colour when they were soaking.
4. Pack olives in clean warm sterilized jars. Pour over 25 ml olive oil per
jar. Make a brine of 300 grams coarse salt to 4,5 litres water (or 1:10 ratio). When brine mixture boils pour in 250 ml wine vinegar. The vinegar is not necessary, but many people love the taste of red wine vinegar instead of the rich olive taste. The art is getting all flavours to balance, in true Grecian culinary wisdom -Everything in Moderation. Pour hot brine mixture over . . . . . But wait! This is where your creative olive marinade flavours get to feature.
Let your imagination go wild. In addition to your brine (whether it is the vinegar and salt, or just 1 part salt to 10 part water ratio. The salt ensures that the olives cure without bacteria growing and spoiling the fruit. If you notice some white film, don’t stress. You can scrape it off or leave it to add flavour as some people believe. Before filling the jars with olives, add your favourite pinches of spice and intuitive amounts for your olives to marinate in. Then, place olives into the jar, filling the jar to the brim. Pour your salt brine over and seal jar immediately whilst the liquid is hot. Some people pour oil over to seal the jar. This is optional.
Some flavour marinades I’ve done in the past:
Smoked Chipolte Chili Powder and Rosemary
Mustard Seeds and Laurel Leaf
Greek Traditional: Lemon Juice, Lemon Rinds, Rosemary and Garlic cloves
Herbaliser: Basil, Oregano, Lemon and Thyme
Nasturtium and Peppadew
Lemongrass and Ginger
Cumin seeds, Cayenne and Lemon
Miso and Ginger
Celery Seeds, Bay Leaf and Tarragon
Sage and Rainbow Peppercorns
Smoked Paprika and Lemon Slices
Lavender Flowers, Cloves and Cumin
Cardamom, Peppercorn and Cinnamon
Red curry powder and Turmeric
Carraway Seeds, Celery and Carrot
Share your olive marinades and enjoy!
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.
Top ten foods to try:
- 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.
2. Johnny’s Sunrise Rotis/ Mariam’s Salomies
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.
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.
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 . . .
Soul smiles and surf-sore shoulders leave me mindful and replete. A montage of new faces smiling in the heat. Moon memories and salted dreams sail me through the Monday office beat.
Yes, let’s strike out into the open, where wild places await. Let’s turn off the cell phones, leave our city behind. Let’s forget the time, and live by the heat of the earth. Let’s let this be the last update, sent into space.
I’ll be gone for a while, a moment, a week. To a place with a river, long grass and a beach. – Chris Mason, writer, poet, wildlife filmmaker, my husband:)
We set out to the West Coast, Verlorenvlei near Elandsbay (Elaandsbaai). With family and friends, the rhythm of the day revolves around the wind patterns and the sun’s heat. At nightfall we light candles, build fires and cook up our communal meals of with mains of snoek, crayfish, mutton, or boerewors.
During the early autumn days on Uithoek farm, red fruits become ripe and our little fingers come to collect them. One of my all-time favorite, is the pomegranate’s regal rubies that continue to bear fruit until mid autumn. The other is a tree berry that I recognized from knowing it inside a grinder. The hanging rainbow peppercorn trees are gifts of shade on the Uithoek farm with their big green wispy branches alongside the farm cottages. The burst of flavor from the tiny rainbow peppercorn is a medley of fragrant clove, frankincense and cardamom resemblance. I couldn’t resist some country fruit foraging and harvested a few jars to experiment with some new culinary creations and combinations. I really love the way the pomegranate and rainbow peppercorn are both powerful little kernels of red fantastic flavor accents.
This is my scrumptious salad recipe I’ve been enjoying this week, bursting with tantalizing flavor combinations.
Pomegranate and Peppercorn Salad Recipe:
200 grams of crisp mixed garden lettuce/watercress/beetroot leaves, etc
1/4 cup fresh pomegranate kernels
1/2 tsp fresh rainbow peppercorns
1/8 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup pecans
1 soft ripe plum or small pear
1/8 cup Danish blue cheese
1 TB tahini
2 TB apple cider vinegar
1 tsp hemp powder
In a small bowl add tahini, hemp powder and apple cider vinegar. Whisk together. Wash and rinse the lettuce leaves and plum. Cut the plum in small bite-size pieces. Crumble the danish blue cheese. Toast your pecans and pumpkin seeds until golden brown in a frying pan (the pumpkin seeds will start making crackling sound), then remove from the heat. Cut open the pomegranate and remove the fresh red pomegranate kernels by removing all the white pith that covers and connects the kernels together. Add all the ingredients together into a large bowl and drizzle the dressing over. Toss the salad so all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Enjoy the delicious crunch of pomegranates and rainbow peppercorns in this nutritious salad!
Growing up, we used to pick wild mulberries. The dark mulberries ripened to their juicy capacity and fell on the pavement, painting the sidewalks purple. This was nature’s graffiti and we were young urban foragers. Just below Chicago’s purple EL line, we thought the forest preserve was our Jungle Book fantasy and we ate from the trees along the canal. From the early months of spring to late summer, we would bring pots and buckets home with red-stained fingers.
We ate every shade of red mulberry until our lips were purple and stomach’s sour. We picked so much that we were left with no choice to boil them into a mulberry jam. The berries always tasted better straight from the tree but the syrupy preserve on toast or over yoghurt made the season of red mulberries last.
Today, the mulberry tree keeps painting me purple and I get to try new and old recipes that transform a harvest into nourishing treats. Springtime in Johannesburg brought all these childhood memories back, getting sugar high from trees and overdosing on the tart ruby mulberries. As if the sweetness from the harvest wasn’t enough, I made a mulberry tart from an adapted recipe I learned while managing the kitchen and guest lodge of Los Cardones surf eco-lodge and restaurant on Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast. This tart has been loved by many! Pass on the joy:
Stauder French Tart Recipe
Preheat oven to 350F/180C
2 egg yolks
8 TB sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sifted flour
1 bar softenedd butter
Mix butter, sugar and salt. Add eggs and mix in flour. Mold to a tart pan and poke with a fork. Store in fridge while you prepare filling.
2 egg whites
8 TB sugar
1 bar melted butter
1/2 cup mulberries (smashed)
Mix egg whites, sugar and butter together. Add in fruit.
Take crust out of the fridge and pour fruit filling into chilled tart mold. Bake until crust is golden brown. Let it cool for 30 minutes before serving.
This easy recipe can be adapted into any ready available fruit you want to make into a desert (or breakfast treat.) Some versions we tried and loved: dragonfruit-pitaya, kalala-passion fruit-grenadilla, lemon, orange, banana, and pineapple.
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:
Share. Cook. Love
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.
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.
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:
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.
Build it and they will come. That is the birth story of Ferdinando’s and their quest to sell 10,000 pizzas.
Our friends, Kimon and Diego have been opening their doors to family and friends for countless fun, vibrant foodie celebrations. Whether it was a birthday or post-4am Long Street search for food, we always were generously fed. With Manu Chao pumping through the stereo, you relax and share nourishing homemade food in the comfort of their clementine and paprika painted walls. I’m now remembering the days before Ferdinando’s: Diego’s Fish Festival with Octopus potato salad with pots of Portuguese mussels .
Last week, Kimon reminded me, “We haven’t been invited out to dinner in AGES!” My cheeky response: “Well, can we have Ferdinando’s pizza take-away at our house?” I’ve learned that friends who build a pizza oven in their own home still want to go to dinner parties too!
When you’re at Ferdinando’s, you’re eating at the best pizza joint in Cape Town. It feels like you’re dining or entertaining at home and you forget you’re a paying patron yet there’s a nice feeling knowing you don’t have to do the dishes.
But let’s rewind to April 15th: Kimon’s birthday.
We celebrated the official opening of Ferdinando’s-the best Italian pizza speak-easy in town. Everybody and their mom knows it (mine does). It’s not your average pop-up restaurant. It’s guerilla gourmet. Diego loves creating, Kimon is a creative and together they created a love child: she’s warm and hot all day long (I’m talking about their pizza oven, guys.)
It’s in their previous dining room, but it all makes sense when you sit around the counter and enjoy the edible doppio zero crust canvas of melted cheese and fresh local and Italian ingredients.
Since Kimon’s birthday, we have brought numerous friends and my whole family to get in on this bubbling pizza sensation. We even included our puppy, Lorenzo who loves his older cousin, Ferdinando: the boss, the dueño, the dog, the inspiration for the pizzeria’s name. Any comments, concerns, complaints? Talk to him.
Ferdinando’s Pizza on The Culinary Linguists blog #capetown
My Mom and Pops, self-proclaimed pizza lovers and global food critics, rate Ferdinando’s pizza top-notch. On their world tour, they ate at Ferdinando’s at least once a week in June and July to keep their winter fingers warm and their stomachs lined with Grizzly and Shanico’s. It was the only way to make it through the Cape Town frigid rain and wind-warm up by the wood-burning oven and digest the best immune boosters: Extra garlic four cheese pizza and don’t pass on the Tiger Sauce!
My brother-in law, Billy, specially requested a beef calzone from Diego (there’s nothing this oven can’t do.)
My sister, Koko, said “Yes” to the mozzerella baby (Kimon’s term for eating copious amounts at Ferdinando’s pizza). Koko used to pick the cheese off her pizza in the 90’s before we had any awareness of Vegan and Lactose-Intolerance diets. One night at Ferdinando’s pizza can make any Vegan beg for a French Prince. They even make Gluten-free-dom crusts!
And so the love saga continues. Kimon and Diego love Ferdinando, we love them AND their pizza-oven addition. We’ll keep supporting them even after the 10,000th pizza is sold and sit down to joy with a reservation for 2 and 1/4, Chris, myself and pup, Lorenzo.
Call Kimon or Diego for your own mozzarella baby with Tiger sauce for any Wed, Thurs, Friday Evening 6pm-10pm. And book on Saturdays for your own foodie celebration for 15 or more. On Monday and Tuesdays, they’ll be eating at our house 😉
Mr Diego il chef +27 843519248; miss Kimon the artist +27 847710485.