It’s Day 62 of the South African lockdown. But I barely care about that right now because I’m just excited to write about cool things I saw and did today in Melville — like I used to do on this blog before there was a pandemic.
I know you all want to hear about the chicken and waffles. But first let me tell you the rest.
My first stop was the Heritage Baptist Church — one of Melville’s prettiest churches at the top of the hill on 7th Avenue, right next to the Melville Koppies — where my volunteer friends were packing food parcels for distribution tomorrow.
I won’t say too much about this because I blogged a lot about the food parcel program last week and I’ll blog about it again tomorrow, when the actual distribution happens. But I want to reiterate what a wonderful group of volunteers this is and how grateful I am to be a part of what they’re doing. And I’m so happy they’ve been able to move their operation to this church, which has a lot more space than Tanya and Sean’s house and will allow them to help more people.
After a couple of hours I left the church and walked over to 27 Boxes, where I needed to pick up a book from Book Circle Capital. On the way there I walked past Tilt Coffee. Tilt reopened yesterday, which somehow makes the entire suburb of Melville feel more alive again.
I continued down 4th Avenue and passed Bounty Hunters, the charity shop/cat rescue. There were lots of cats outside the shop sunning themselves, which sometimes makes me sad but today I felt happy for them. The cats looked so content, like they were all just coming out of lockdown themselves.
The Chicken and Waffles
At the corner of 4th Avenue and 7th Street, I reached my final destination for the day: the Kwoffee Shop. The Kwoffee Shop sits on one of Melville’s most prominent corners, where the Bread & Roses café used to be. The Kwoffee Shop had the misfortune of opening just a couple weeks before the lockdown started. (The name “Kwoffee” is meant to mimic they way New Yorkers say “coffee”. While some Americans may take issue with this, I’m going to allow it.)
A friend recently tagged me in a Facebook post announcing the Kwoffee Shop started offering Southern-style chicken and waffles this week. I was a little suspicious. Ordering food from restaurants has become a great luxury for me during lockdown. I want to make every choice count…Could I really risk investing in an untested takeaway chicken-and-waffle order from a café with a funny name and zero reputation?
I decided I could. I marched up to the Kwoffee Shop’s take-away window (I love how all the restaurants are getting these) and ordered the chicken and waffles — spicy — from Mo, the charming owner. I even let him up-sell me on some chilli cheese sauce on the side, which I figured I probably didn’t need but what the heck.
I walked home slowly, clutching the waffle in its thick paper bag, careful not to tilt it and upset the contents. I got home, opened the bag, and peeked inside the styrofoam container.
As soon as the scent hit my nose, I knew.
Perhaps there are chicken-and-waffle purists out there who would object to this interpretation. These were not whole fried chicken pieces, but rather two thick, boneless fingers.The fingers — which were very moist — had a light, seasoned crust, with a drizzle of a few different sauces that looked sweet and spicy and creamy. The waffle was soft but not soggy, with a hint of crispness.
I carefully transferred the waffle onto a plate, and grabbed my bottle of Vermont maple syrup just in case. After one blissful bite, I knew my syrup wasn’t needed.
I wasn’t sure I should risk ruining a good thing with the chilli cheese sauce either, but I’d paid R22 for it. So I dipped one corner of a waffle-and-chicken bite into the cheese sauce, and tentatively put it into my mouth. Somehow the cheese sauce amplified all the flavors even more.
For about ten minutes (okay, maybe seven because I ate really fast), there was a full-on, raucous chicken-and-waffle party happening inside my mouth. My tastebuds came alive and I was so, so happy.
The simple pleasures of lockdown in Melville.
Today’s Worthy Cause
Today I’m featuring the Roving Bantu Kitchen. I love this place. There is no better spot in town to go and listen to fantastic African music while eating delicious African food. On the right night, the vibe is magical.
The Roving Bantu Kitchen — which is also running a Brixton soup kitchen during lockdown — is running a Thundafund campaign to keep itself afloat. Please check out the campaign and watch the fantastic video. This is a piece of Joburg that has to stay alive.
See you tomorrow.