Sometimes I buy spices, thinking the fragrant, colorful little packets might motivate me to cook something. Unfortunately that rarely happens and the spices get old and sticky and I wind up throwing them away unused. For this reason I rarely shop for spices anymore, even though South Africa — with its cacophonous mix of eastern and western cultures and cuisines — is a great place to do so. But if I did shop for spices, I would do so at Mallies Spice Works. I went to Mallies with Marie-Lais to take photos for a column in the Citizen newspaper. I’d heard there was a famous spice factory in Newtown but I never would have found it without Google Maps; Mallies is in an unassuming location, close to the highway and a notorious squatter camp. As we parked outside, I felt suspicious that we were in the right place. But as often happens in Joburg, we walked inside and discovered an alternate universe. Outside Mallies Spice Works on Carr Street in Newtown. Mallies’ crazy interior. Spices Galore at Mallies We went to Mallies in the middle of the day on a Tuesday and it was packed with both customers and employees. Everyone […]
My #HelloWeekend trip to Cape Town was nearly a month ago and I’m woefully behind in writing about it. But I can’t let any more time pass before telling you about my Cape Malay cooking class in the Bo-Kaap. Before I moved to Joburg five years ago, I googled South African food. I knew nothing about South African cuisine (in fact I knew nothing about South Africa) and was curious to learn about the regional specialties in the country I was moving to. “Cape Malay” was the first thing that popped up. At the time, the descriptions I found of Cape Malay cuisine — a spicy mixture of Asian, Indian, Dutch, and African flavors — made little sense to me. It’s hard to understand Cape Malay cuisine without understanding the entire complicated history of South Africa, and especially Cape Malay culture. It didn’t help that I had little exposure to Cape Malay food in Joburg, as the cuisine is more specific to Cape Town and surrounds. Last year I went on a tour through Cape Town’s Bo-Kaap neighborhood and ate at Bismillah, the most popular Cape Malay restaurant in the area. Cape Malay food, along with Cape Malay culture more generally, started to reveal itself to me […]
I enjoy cooking and I used to cook regularly. But in recent years, for reasons I don’t completely understand, cooking vanished from my life. It happened gradually — I started eating out more, food-shopping less, and eventually couldn’t find the time or motivation to cook anything other than scrambled eggs, toasted cheese, and Woolworths’ veggie burgers. So when I was invited to review a service called Daily Dish, which delivers food ingredients and recipes for a week’s worth of dinners right to your door, I eagerly accepted. Daily Dish seemed like the perfect opportunity to get out of my cooking rut. Daily Dish ingredients and recipe card for Beef stroganoff. Here’s how it works. You sign up for Daily Dish online and choose between the classic, vegetarian, and low-carb menus. You can order for either two people or four people. Prices vary depending on which menu you choose and how many people you’re ordering for. (Meals cost around R70-80 per meal per person for the two-person menu, and R45-55 for the four-person menu.) Daily Dish delivers all the food and recipes for four weekly dinners to your house on a Monday. Then you cook, and eat. Chopping mushrooms. I had a bit of a […]
Two days ago I went to Spar, the grocery store in Melville, with my friend Anita. Anita noticed something in the refrigerated section near the bakery. “Look at that!” Anita shouted. There was a row of plastic bags, each containing a ball of dough. The bags weren’t sealed or anything — just sitting there, open, with dough inside. Each bag cost R10 (about $1.20).
Joe and I recently received an invitation to brunch at the home of our friend Karen, a.k.a. Bing. (Her name is Karen. Her name is Bing. She has other names too, but I won’t get into that.) This was no ordinary brunch invitation. Bing writes a very popular blog, the Story of Bing, and devotes an entire section of her blog to cooking. I’ve been drooling over her food photography for months. This was my chance to experience the real thing. Bing, a fellow expat, is Singaporean of Chinese descent. She described our brunch as “a really really traditional lunch. It’s what my Mom would prepare every weekend for us.” This was my first time eating home-cooked Chinese food. And it happened in South Africa. Who would’ve guessed?
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.