Today is Heritage Day, a holiday celebrating South Africa’s incredible cultural diversity. It’s also the unofficial start of summer and a day when South Africans celebrate their diversity by grilling meat. (Heritage Day has been rebranded by many as “Braai Day”.) I thought it would be a good day to tell you about Joburg’s best and most inspiring frozen dessert: Sobae sorbet. Thato Masondo and Thula Ndema didn’t like seeing all the overripe fruit being discarded onto the street by Joburg’s downtown produce vendors. So after a few years of scheming and saving funds, Thula and Thato started Sobae Frozen, making sorbet from that overripe fruit and selling it on the streets of Braamfontein. Today, the couple makes and sells their sorbet at Victoria Yards and at pop-up events in the Wilds. Sobae Sorbet Sobae is no ordinary sorbet, with basic flavors like lemon and strawberry and mango. Thato and Thula are master flavor magicians, whipping up exotic combinations like apple and pomegranate with cinnamon or butternut and banana with chai spice. Using very ripe fruit (and vegetables!) makes the sorbet taste particularly sweet without a lot of added sugar. All of Sobae’s ingredients are locally produced and in season. […]
I don’t go to Joburg’s northern suburbs often. To be honest, the northern suburbs — Sandton, Bryanston, Morningside, Fourways, etc. — remind me too much of the bland American suburbs that I fled to Africa to escape. (No offense to those who live there. That life just isn’t for me anymore.) But for some time I’ve wanted to visit the Bryanston Organic & Natural Market, billed as “Joburg’s original outdoor market”. I love farmers markets, and have yet to find one in Joburg that meets the high standards I developed while living in Washington D.C. I finally went to the Bryanston market yesterday with my friend David, who is a regular there.
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.
One of the unfortunate realities about life in Joburg is that if you need something, you’ll probably have to go a shopping mall to buy it. And the malls here are sprawling, crowded, and uniformly depressing. But if you look carefully you can find some really lovely places to shop. Joe and I live a block away from one such lovely place — a little shopping centre called Bamboo. Looking out at Rustenberg Road from Love Books, one of the shops in Bamboo.