Oh, how I have missed thee. These long nights and days and not a word from your gourmet. Have you all drifted into the gentle night thinking you will never hear from me again? So, I have returned from my fab trip. The Gourmets are back in town! The Gourmets are back in town! (You know that little song....the boys are back in town!...right now sing the previous sentence to that tune. Yes, I am that much of a dork to make my readers have a sing-along)
Since I have little to write about infertility right now due to my past bi-polar posts on the way to solve my issues....one day I am adopting, the next day I am gung-ho on IVF, the next day I am faithfully praying like a dumb-ass to the infertility gods, and the next day might find my standing on my head because I heard that makes one ovulate (again dumb-assedness), or even peeing on a stick and everyone knows how trusty those little devils are. I get questions at least once a week about ..so are you still adopting? so are you still getting treatment? Well the answer to these things chickys is I do not know what the fuck I am doing. I will write of my dilemma later but for now the gourmet wants to write about food.
I want to share about my trip because I love to travel and taste other culture. So we are going to do this "when I was at band camp" style starting off with La Cuisine of South Africa.
Let me start by stating that I was in Knysna only....and an hour either way from there so my experience was limited in what the country has as a whole. I just ain't gonna be misrepresentin the country as whole Yo'. I ain't hatin' just statin'. In other words I am giving a slice of the pie not the whole pie. I know slices suck and we all want the whole pie but I was on a diet of places visited due to the fact that we went for a wedding which limited travel anywhere but there.
In general it seemed as if the fare was a healthy dose of Mediterranean cuisine. Fresh fruits and veggies, seafood, olives, squash, yoghurt, olive oil, and lemon rounded out with an African flare of meats like Kudu, Ostrich, Alligator, and beef. It seems much like the food we eat in the states because it is a melting pot of flavors from around the world.
In my travels I have been appalled at one certain image I seemingly see around every corner. Those damn golden arches are invasive parasites. Walking through ancient tiny streets of Venice, I rounded a corner while thinking that I was in the seventeenth century and was rudely shaken out of my daydream...low and behold there before was a Mcdonalds. Tragedy. Staring out the window of a car gazing at the distance horizon of pyramids in Cairo I spotted out of the corner of my eye a Mcdonalds. Horror. The reason for my disenchantment is because to me Mcdonalds represents what I dislike about our country...it is the scapegoat and symbol of the wrongs and what gets me is that is what is promoted throughout the world. It is our ambassador in many a country. Or our TV which is not a slice of true America. Mcdonalds is crappy food filled with toxins and artificial flavors. If this is the only "American" food in a particular country what do the people of that country think of our food? It is embarrassing. I do not have a problem with people junking out from time to time. Nor do I have the problem with people having a burger and fries. I do have a problem with Mcdonalds being the preferred food to children in schools, the main course several nights a week, and having the worst of us displayed in ancient Venice. Mcdonalds is sterile fake food and I personally would prefer to see it hidden in the closets of America that prominently displayed abroad as an ambassador.
Why the Alexian nag?.... Well, Knysna has great food, beautiful presentation, and fresh dishes abound. Most people, I assume, who grow up there are used to food in a natural form that does not come from a factory line so when our pal Ronald Mcdonald set up his new pad with shiny playground in Knysna he was not welcomed with the Welcome committee. Nobody burned crosses in his yard or through bricks through the window but none of the children would play with the little Hamburglar. After three months in this beautiful town Ronald closed his doors because nobody came. Ronald left town with his Happy Meal between his legs. Yeah!!! This gives me such pleasure to report.
I am sad to report but feel it is my duty that Knysna does have one fast food restaurant...KFC. My disgruntled attitude about this is obvious however it is a large town...and only one fast food restaurant is not too bad. At least it is the Colonel and not Ronald. Besides small towns here are started with multiple fast food chains.
While we are talking about junk food I might as well come out now with what I did eat that I am not too proud. First South Africa has this Delicious little sweet and spicy pickled chili called the Peppadew. Sounds innocent enough right? Yes the peppadew is an innocent creature onto itself but if you find yourself on the beach, which by the way gives one license to eat some fatty and sugary junk, and your friends head up to the beach shop to get some junk you might find yourself diving into a bag of potato chips. Lays potato chips. Peppered with Peppadew. Potatoes going steady with the little hot mama peppadew. Yum. Peppadew flavored Lays. Many bags of Peppadew chips were consumed by the Americans last week. The picture is my friend Jackie and Rhonda the one who got married. Many, many bags. Pictures were taken of the chips. We squealed in laughter and happiness over the chips. Coups were formed in order to overthrow the owner of each bag. Late night stops at gas stations were made under the guise of running low on gas despite the tanks being more the 3/4 full. Lies, deceit, and treachery were among the plights to eat the Peppadew Lay.
In the end, the customs official was threatened that if he took my Peppadew Lays there was going to be trouble. He was afraid of me...very, very afraid. He decided to pick on the Impala rug instead...do not ask why I have an Impala rug. Will explain later.
The final ending came when David threatened divorce when he found the shriveled empty bag amongst my posses ions at home. He bellowed "How could you do this to me! After all that we have been through and shared! I thought you loved me! But no you only love the Peppadew! I thought that you would share! I am leaving you for someone who is more fertile and who would share the Peppadew!"
Low. Blow. Can you believe he said that. Of all the things to say to me. Someone. who. will. share. the. peppadew. As if he would find someone do do this...yeah right. The infertile part of the comment...he is right..anyone is more fertile than me...really it is true just google infertile and in the entire world I am number five. I understand where he was coming on the infertile thing but the peppadew thing...U-n-n-a-c-c-e-p-t-a-b-l-e. Divorce papers are filed and Peppadew and I have bought a condo on the coast to shack up in. Maybe we will have little Peppadews out of Ziploc.
Enough tangentry. On with the next foible. Bread. At home I eat little bread. I pride myself on being colon aware and colons are not to fond of bread ...especially white bread. Except for my braided challah on friday nights, I rarely eat it. However when you are on the opposite hemisphere one behaves opposite. I ate enough white bread that my colon has now charged me with Irreconcilable Differences and even got a movie deal. It was delicious. Homemade, sometimes warm from the oven, and always smattered with butter. White bread, my new best friend, was at every meal. He waffled over and pulled up a chair at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sometimes made room calls in the middle of the day. He was very loyal. He even talked to my colon for me but to no use the colon would not have his kind in there. Mr White Bread had a few friends...wheat breads, and health breads were the secondary bread served frequently which were full of seeds and yumminess again accompanied with butter.
While we are on the subject of butter please allow me to embellish about the dairy products which is part of the four food groups...fat, sugar, alcohol, and salt. Please be sure to get a few servings of each per day people. In America's pursuit of sterile food and lots of it our commercial farming practices have taken away the quality of the dairy. I am always reminded of this when I visit most other countries because dairy has flavor across our borders. The milk was tasty and had a creaminess and freshness that cannot be beat. The butter was very yellow with so much flavor that my husband, who I call affectionately "the butter boy" because his motto is the bread is just the vehicle for the butter (bastard skinny boy is my thought), wanted to bring some home with us. I was ready to let him only so that could be the contraband taken at customs so that my Peppadew could slide through the commotion. While his butter was going to be taken to the back room handcuffed and questioned by customs officials my Peppadew and I would slide through unaccosted. Unfortunately my husband became worried that the butter may escape its package and hold his Brooks Brothers blazer for ransom. Mission South African Butter Aborted.
While we are into the cheese and dairy I will discuss the staple Greek salad. For those of you who do not know me, I would sell my body and pimp myself out for Feta. I am fond of all the little fetas of the world, red or yellow, black or white , they are delicious in my bite...alex loves the little fetas of the world!!!!! At the height of my feta epidemic in 1999, I was known to keep track of my feta intake by units rather than pieces, bites, or ounces. I must, by alexian law, must eat a vegetable with every meal and at least one salad a day. The first day I got there I was jonesing for a salad. A quick snoop of the menu and bells were ringing, birds were chirping, there was a greek salad on the menu. I thought it was an anomaly but no...they are very popular and on almost every menu. I think the country's palate was built around my tastes. I had eaten three salads within 36 hours of arrival. See how the heavens smile one me in the southern hemisphere:)
Let us now cover meat....Interesting things that we definitely do not have here like Kudu and Impala. Ostrich and Alligator gander onto menus as well. Biltong is a popular treat which seems to be a beef jerky of sorts. One night is was on a salad... alex did not like that. Seafood is a plenty like prawns, shrimp, cape salmon, and oysters.
Did I mention Peppadew? oh yeah I did....
One of the concepts that seems to be prevalent is the high quality food affairs. Everything that we did like visiting a game reserve included food. Not just hamburgers and hotdogs with anemic mustard delicately globbed under one bite. No no this was a feast. Let us use the game reserve as an example. After our mock-safari we had dinner at the lodge that overlooks mountains and the resident animals pad. The place was quite beautiful and rustic with massive wooden beams, cathedral ceilings, large chandeliers (can you hear the real estate agent in me? Buy now...this one is a gem. Hurry it will not be here long!!!!!!) and a large deck that overlooked a valley and mountains...the view was spectacular...mountain view-yes city view-no pool-no.
After getting off the bumpy jeep from the mock safari we were greeted with glasses of sherry. And that would have been enough. Dayeinu. After dilly-dallying in the setting sun's rays on the deck we were invited into dinner that started of with a most delicious mushroom soup. And that would have been enough. Dayeinu. As time passed the buffet was opened for grazing....decadent salads, pasta salad, biltong salad, breads (duh!) , roasted veggies, potato salad, mushroom stuffed with a bite of heaven, and cheese. I got my plate and realized there would be more at a second station later on. Now let me explain what I was so surprised about...this was a dusty touristy type of event...not an affair that I have ever seen accompany a great feast. I walked back to our table and told everyone that there was more...everybody said yeah that is second course duh! Well in my perplexed state I apparently did not explain why I said that but just sat back down. This second course would have been enough. Dayeinu. Third course began with lasagna, curried rices, vegetables in spiced sauces, chicken pie, and steamed veggies. Dayeinu. Fourth course was a seafood Kebab, Kudu, Beef, and something else that I did not identify. Dayeinu. Fifth course (well of course there was one) was dessert to the tenth power...cakes, cream pies, and fruit...my favorite was the passion fruit. Cheese plate....yum.
On a funny discussion....Do you know when you were little and your parents said..."Eat, EAT, there are starving kids in Africa!" We asked Michael (Rhonda's fiancee) what his mom said to him. Surely his mother would have not said Africa because they were in Africa. So we assumed she might have said "Eat, EAT, there are starving children in America". Now please know that we were joking. His mom always just said eat there are starving children. Interesting ....It always was a terrible argument that even four year old saw the holes through it. I hope I have new material if I am ever a parent.
One night at the Manor we had a traditional Brai (I am sure this is spelled wrong). More bread cooked on the grill...yum. More meat of the same kind. Another buffet with an assortment of the usual. Insert picture of dorky husband behind the buffet. I would not have taken this picture because it goes against my principals of tourist pictures....whip out the camera quick snap and return to the hidden pouch, only take pictures of someone who you do not know with permission, and for the love of God do not snap a picture of everything....please. My lovely friend Jackie took this without my knowledge...I believe they did it on the sly to annoy me.
Punishment is that David lands in the blog looking dorky. Punishment to Jackie is the threat of posting the picture from the beach with the swimsuit wedgie. HA HA HA I will not post it but I will threaten it. And know that I know she reads this blog...thanks to my brother with the big mouth.
I found this out one morning at breakfast when Jackie looks up from her pile of fried eggs and boerwoers (sausage like thing-a-mi-bob). "You know I think you should do something with your writing". Huh? "What writing?" I asked ever so playing dumb. I quickly reeled through my writings....no...no one knows of what I write at home....books for children and a few unfinished novels. A few people know of the blog but that is not good writing that is just dump and bitter writing. She does not know about the blog does she? How would she have found out. She replied your writing that you do on the computer. Still playing dumb I thought Oh shit did I write anything about her at anytime? She then says "you know your blog". Fuck.
"How do you know about my blog?" She said she would not tell of her source. Fuck. That means maybe more people know of it. Then I got to thinking....my brother knows because I shared with him the story of The Big Haired Fertility Guru because I knew he would not read another thing due to lack of interest. But, like any Hunter (family name) he logs gossip away like a beaver to his trees. Beau mentioned my writing in passing to Jackie. Jackie took the cue and shook him down to get the full scoop. He says that he should probably not say anything else. She just says his name "Beau" and the six foot seven brother acts as if little Jackie might hurt him and spills "the infertile gourmet" because you know my brother was scared for his life right? Yeah right....So Jackie quick on the hunt types in on the address bar www.theinfertilegourmet.com which of course comes up bare. He tells her that his moral and ethical obligations to keep this information private needs the utmost respect. He then briskly informs her that she is doing it wrong. Google The Infertile gourmet. Jackpot. Jackie has now read the blog in entirety. Scary.
One good thing that came about though is she gets it. She even somewhat apologized and explained why on the fateful lunch a year or so ago she and Rhonda said all of the classic infertility statements ...because she just did not get it. She also said that she was glad that she read about it without me filtering it and it got to her rawly and just the way it is. My most important quest in life is to be understood. So it put our friendship one notch higher because she got it. Thanks little big bro!
Oh shit where was I when I tangented off course...oh yes the Brai...which is basically a big BBQ. Lots of food Yada yada yada. But dessert was a horse of a different color. Molva pudding. Just like Seinfeld. Molva. It was so delicious and it is a cross between a bread pudding with caramelized gooey cream floatin' on top. Add a little custard to that and ooohhh I am in heaven. Recipe to follow.
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon apricot jam
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 cup milk.
For the sauce:
½ cup cream
½ cup milk
1 cup sugar
½ cup hot water
½ cup butter
Butter an ovenproof glass or porcelain container. Sift the flour and bicarb into a bowl and stir in the sugar. In another bowl beat the egg very well and add the other ingredients (excluding those for the sauce) one by one, beating well. Using a wooden spoon beat the wet ingredients into the dry.
Pour batter into the baking dish, cover with greased foil, greased side down, and bake in a 180°C preheated oven for 45 minutes until well risen and for another 5 minutes if not browned enough.
If not sufficiently baked the pudding won't absorb the sauce making it stodgy inside.
When almost done, heat the ingredients for the sauce making sure all the sugar and butter are melted. When the pudding is done, remove from the oven, pour over the sauce. Serve hot or at room temperature with a little cream.
Thank you Funky Monkey for this recipe!!
I have cooked this post a little too long..time to serve. Y'all come back ya hear.