South Africa and America have a lot in common. Both countries are large and diverse. Both countries are “new” by European standards, and both are former British colonies. Both countries have fought bloody wars over racial oppression.
Both countries have a love affair with steak. Especially steak served in massive quantities, in grimy roadside strip malls.
Thunder Gun! The pickup (bakkie) parked in front is so appropriate. Continue Reading
I know I said I was going to look forward, not back, from now on. But I lied. There is one more day in 2011 that I want to write about.
Two and a half weeks ago I spent an afternoon in Chinatown with the blog girls — Martina, Karen, and Namrata. It was my first visit to Joburg’s ‘new’ Chinatown, which is in a suburb called Cyrildene. (‘New’ Chinatown in Cyrildene is not to be confused with ‘old’ Chinatown in the Joburg city centre. You may remember that I visited the old Chinatown a few months ago.)
My friends took me to Chinatown because I needed some cheering up, and I was also in dire need of a haircut. Karen knows a ridiculously cheap hair salon in Chinatown, and a Chinatown haircut is a great excuse to gorge on cheap, delicious Chinatown food. Continue Reading
The week I met Shelly, a faithful 2Summers reader who is in the middle of an epic trip around Southern Africa. (By the way, this is the coolest thing about blogging. I have fans!)
Shelly is awesome — she brought me tons of cool stuff from the States, including my favorite breakfast cereal, American baking chocolate, and birthday presents from my parents. She decided to spend some extra time in Jozi specifically because of my blog. So Joe and I wanted to show her some local places and treat her to a nice dinner.
Turns out Shelly introduced us to a new great place in our own home town. Continue Reading
Hooray for WordPress, who Freshly Pressed Voortrekker: My New Favorite Afrikaans Word on Thursday. Thanks to everyone who read, commented on, and subscribed to my blog over the last few days.
For new readers expecting posts about South Africa: I’m in the States and have been blogging about America for the past two weeks. I’ll return to my usual subject matter later this week.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Between stints in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, I squeezed in a 36-hour visit to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where my mother lives. Hilton Head is a small island in the “Lowcountry” – a marshy region along the South Carolina/Georgia coast made famous by the movie Forrest Gump.
A Hilton Head marsh – classic Lowcountry topography.
Note: A “cuppa joe” is an American slang term for a cup of coffee. I’ve just been informed that people outside the U.S. might not know this.
When I left Washington D.C. for Joburg, I thought I was leaving coffee culture behind. I was under the impression that South Africa, like many other African countries I’ve visited, is ruled by tea drinkers.
I was dead wrong. People take coffee seriously in Joburg. And unlike D.C., where most people (including me when I lived there) get their caffeine fix from flimsy cardboard or styrofoam containers while driving or hurrying down sidewalks, Joburgers tend to drink their coffee from real, washable coffee cups, stirred with metal spoons, while sitting on actual chairs. Continue Reading
Note: The title of this post refers to an American advertising campaign for beef. I’m no fan of the American beef industry but the slogan fits the post.
I recently had coffee in Rosebank (a shopping district just north of Melville) with my blogger friend Jane. After coffee we popped into The Grillhouse – one of the most popular steakhouses in Joburg — to say hello to Jane’s friend David, the Grillhouse’s operations manager.
David asked me if I’d ever dined at the Grillhouse. “I’m too poor to eat steak,” I told him. “The closest I’ve come since I moved to Joburg is a hamburger at Spur.”
“If you can afford to eat at Spur, you can afford to eat here,” David said. Continue Reading
Yeoville, much like Hillbrow and other inner-city suburbs in Jozi, has transformed over the last three decades. Once an artsy, mixed-race (but primarily white) neighborhood, similar to Melville, Yeoville is now a chaotic, pan-African cocktail-shaker. (I almost said “melting pot” but that’s too cliché for words.)
Most of Yeoville‘s residential buildings are crumbling and occupied by squatters. The main drag, Raleigh St., is crammed with pedestrians, loiterers, tiny shops, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants serving home-cooked dishes from across the continent. Yeoville is noisy, dirty, colorful, and a little dangerous. In other words, my kind of place. Continue Reading
I still remember my first taste of Indian food — chicken tikka masala from the Bombay Peacock Grill in Columbia, Maryland, sometime in the late 1990s. It was love at first bite.
Years later, my passion for Indian cuisine soared when I spent two weeks volunteering in Chennai, India. I got terribly sick halfway through the trip, but an upset stomach couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm for eating curry, briyani, and chapati at every opportunity.
I hit the jackpot when I moved to South Africa. There are well over a million ethnic Indians here; Indian food, clothing, and culture pervade society. Since most South African Indians come from families that have been here for many generations, a specialized South African Indian cuisine has developed that you can’t find anywhere else. Continue Reading
Let’s talk cheese.
I once visited Paris, the world’s cheese Mecca. There were cheese shops on every corner. I gazed longingly through the cheese shop windows but I never entered; I was too intimidated. How do you choose a cheese when there are 500 cheeses to choose from? Especially when you must read the labels in French?
I’ve always regretted my cowardice on that trip and wondered what I missed out on. I’ve found a chance to redeem myself here in South Africa, at the Cheese Gourmet in the Joburg suburb of Linden. Continue Reading
Johannesburg is a new city by human standards, having been founded 125 years ago in 1886. But just a short drive from Joburg lie the remains of some of the oldest human descendants on earth.
The Cradle of Humankind, 20 kilometers from town, is a 47,000-hectare World Heritage Site that produced the first adult australopithecine fossil, “Mrs. Ples,” discovered in 1947. Mrs. Ples is believed to be between 2.8 and 2.6 million years old. To date, more than 850 hominid fossils have been discovered in a series of dolomitic limestone caves scattered throughout the Cradle. Continue Reading