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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Travel writer Dave Barry said, “It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity”. Billions would agree. After all, second to water, coffee is the most consumed beverage in the world, beating out wine, Coca Cola, beer, orange juice, and tea. It’s also the most traded commodity on the planet.

How well do you know your coffee history trivia? Test your ability to separate the beans from the granules with these surprising did you know coffee facts.

1.Goats in Africa discovered coffee

Historians suggest that coffee imbibing first took place in Ethiopia. According to legend, a ninth-century goat herder named Kaldi was kept up all night by his goats bleating and dancing about the place after they consumed red coffee berries.

Shortly thereafter, some local monks tried the berries and discovered that they were able to pray for longer. The use of coffee berries spread to other monasteries and energised more monks. Coffee began its spread throughout the world but it wasn’t until the thirteenth century that people began to roast coffee beans, signalling the first step in the coffee making process, as we know it today.

2.Coffee was originally chewed not sipped

Initially coffee berries were ground, mixed with animal fat and fashioned into bite-sized edible balls. These snacks were chewed and ingested for nutrition and energy during hunts, while farming and on long journeys.

3.Dying for a cup of coffee

Coffee has been banned at various turns throughout history for everything from being satanic to inspiring radical thinking. One such ban by Italian clergyman in the sixteenth-century was overturned by Pope Clement VII because he couldn’t do without his beloved coffee. He even had it baptised. 

Apparently, Ottoman leader Murad IV created the first known official punishments for coffee transgression in the 1620s. These included beatings and being hurled into the sea.

In the mid 1700s, the Swedish government declared not just coffee illegal but cups and saucers too.

4.Beer not coffee with breakfast

A couple of decades later, Frederick the Great of Prussia became increasingly concerned about the effects of coffee. It is said that he believed that it interfered with his soldiers’ dependability and with the country’s beer consumption. Issuing a manifesto declaring the superiority of beer over wine, he argued that alcohol would replace caffeine at the breakfast table.

But you can’t keep a man from his coffee and the illegal trade in coffee flourished. So the wily king ordered a special task force to identify and summarily deal with coffee smugglers. The task force was allegedly known as the Kaffee Schnuffler.

5.Beethoven’s coffee bombs

Beethoven is best known for his nine symphonies, but not as well known for his peculiar coffee preparation habits. Unable to begin his day without enjoying a cup of coffee (nothing peculiar about that) he would count his coffee beans, insisting on 60 per cup. This is still not all that peculiar for those in the know, as 60 beans is a mere 10 beans more than the average cup contains.

However, he would simply grind the beans up and pour boiling water over them. Thus, in comparison to modern coffee, which goes through various processes, the caffeine quantity in Beethoven’s cup would have been sufficient to have your heart detonate in your chest.

6.Coffee bean or coffee fruit?

Interestingly, while resembling a bean, coffee ‘beans’ are actually berry pits or seeds. The obvious questions is so what? Does it make a difference if we refer to it as a bean or a seed? Surely coffee is coffee no matter how we label the bean or seed from whence it comes?

Actually, it does make a difference. You may be surprised to discover how different coffee can taste when it is light roasted. In dark roasted coffee the main flavour is the roast. Light roasted coffee yields more delicate, floral and fruity notes. But the best part is this: Regardless of your preference for light, medium or dark roasted coffee you can happily consume your java any way you like without being hunted by coffee Schnufflers or being thrown into the sea.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Elephants are the undisputed giants of the savannah and forest. Frequently depicted in mythology and revered as a symbols of power and strength, they’ve also become universally immortalized in beloved pop culture characters such as Dumbo and Horton. So where do these huge truncated, floppy-eared goliaths come from originally?

African elephants and their smaller Asian cousins are descendant of a common ancestor, the extinct woolly mammoth. That’s the most likely answer if you ferret about for an answer based in science. African legend and lore would have it that the elephant’s origin story has various more poetic narratives, depending on which country or region you’re in.

What the Kamba tribe of Kenya believes

One of the more intriguing elephant origin tales goes something like this. First, in keeping with oral storytelling tradition, you need to imagine yourself sitting at a fire under the stars with the wizened, soulful voice of a narrator lulling you into quiet, concentrated awe as he or she retells how the elephant evolved from man.

A poor man seeking to change his circumstances heard a tale about “Ivonya-Ngia”, “He that feeds the poor”. Intrigued, he decided to seek out Ivonya-Ngia and embarked on a long and treacherous journey. Finally, tired and weary, he summited a hill and realised he’d reached his destination.

As far as the eye could see he there were endless herds of cattle and sheep and a lush expanse of green pastures. In the midst of these pastures he clapped eyes on a large residence. It was the home of Ivonya-Ngia who received the poor man graciously and, in a demonstration of compassion and generosity, ordered his men to bestow on the poor man one hundred sheep and an equal number of cows.

“Thank you, but no”, said the poor man. “I don’t want your charity. I want you to share with me the secret to becoming rich”. Ivonya-Ngia reflected on this for a time and then, handing the poor man a small jar containing some ointment he said, “Rub this on the teeth of your wife’s two pointed teeth of her upper jaw (incisors). Wait until they grow and then sell them”.

The poor man was dubious at first but he believed Ivonya-Ngia to be a man of integrity and undoubtedly great wealth. So, he journeyed home and promising his incredulous but loving wife that they would become rich, she allowed him to carry out the strange instructions. Nothing happened at first but the poor man continued to apply the ointment to his wife’s pointed teeth. After some weeks, her teeth began to grow. Eventually, they grew into tusks as thick and long as the poor man’s arm. He persuaded his wife to allow him to remove the tusks and took them to the market and sold them for a tribe of goats. 

Continuing to apply the ointment, the no longer poor man’s wife’s pointed teeth soon grew into tusks that were even longer than the previous pair. This time she refused to let her husband touch them. With time her body became larger and heavier and her skin turned thick and grey. One day, she burst through the front door of their house and lumbered into the forest. There she gave birth to their son. He was an elephant.

From time to time the man visited his wife and son in the forest. Each time he implored her to return and each time she refused. She continued to birth more elephants and her children became the first herd of elephants on earth.

Image courtesy of Jan van Huyssteen

Monday, October 2, 2017

If asked to name the most hunted animal on the planet you might guess whale, elephant, lion, rhino, shark, cheetah or the Chinese Salamander perhaps? And yes, while hunted in droves for various reasons including what some define as sport, for status or imagined medicinal cures, the aforementioned animals are high up on the most hunted list but they do not top it. The number one spot is reserved for the humble and lesser-known Pangolin.

How to recognise a Pangolin

Affectionately described by Amy Attenborough as, “Somewhere between a dinosaur, an artichoke and a small dog with giant toenails”, the Pangolin is ruthlessly hunted and trafficked primarily for its large armour-like scales. Like rhino horn, the Pangolin’s scales are believed by some to treat various conditions from increasing lactation, draining pus, stabilising blood pressure and curing everything from palsy to cancer. The fact is, none of the Pangolin’s curious-looking body parts, including their delightfully large ‘toenails’ have any curative qualities.

Impenetrable armour

Pangolin means “something that rolls up” and for good reason. When threatened by its main adversaries - which apart from humans are big cats - it curls into itself. Thus shielded, even a lion’s ferocious fangs cannot pierce its impenetrable armour. Unfortunately, curling into a foetal position also renders it vulnerable to being easily picked up and cuddled or stolen.

Sometimes when threatened, the Pangolin lashes out with its tail, the scales on which can nick an enemy’s skin. Alternatively, much like a skunk, they are also known to give off a nasty-smelling gas from glands near the anus.

Ear and nose specialists

Having appalling eyesight, the Pangolin relies on a well-developed sense of smell and hearing to locate dining areas in the form of termite mounds and ant hills. Using its enormous claws and strong forearms it roots out in excess of 70 million insects per year. In fact, their sense of smell is so good that the Pangolin is able to close its ears and nostrils when feeding to keep out the hordes of insects while feeding.

Retractable built-in cutlery

When not required to lap up insects, its long and sticky tongue retracts into a sheath located in its chest. Interestingly, the tongue is attached almost as far back as its pelvis and last set of ribs and, in some of the smaller Pangolin species, the tongue is longer than their total body length. Being toothless, their food is ground by keratinous scales inside their robust stomach. They ingest minute pebbles and soil during mealtimes to aid the digestive process.

The dating game

Pangolins are believed to live a relatively short life of twenty years or so and dating is rudimentary but effective. Males attract females by urinating to mark their territory and then leave it to the ladies to come and find them. Other than mating for procreation the Pangolin is a loner. Females give birth to one offspring at a time. Children get carted about on Mum’s tail and are weaned at three months.

Among David Attenborough’s favourites

Of the eight species of Pangolin, four reside in Africa. Of the African varieties, one resides in South Africa, surprising and delighting people fortunate enough to spot them. Their reptilian appearance belies the fact that they are in fact mammals; the only mammals covered in scales. Predating humans, the earliest Pangolin fossils indicate that they probably arrived shortly after the extinction of the dinosaur. David Attenborough famously said that if he were to select ten animals to save from extinction the Pangolin (more specifically the Sunda Pangolin from Asia) would be one. While relatively unknown and not grabbing centre stage, these ancient precious creatures are deserving of our protection.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The story of Cape Malay cuisine starts with the involuntary migration of people in the 17th century from various parts of South East Asia - including Malaysia and Indonesia. Brought to the Cape as slaves, they brought with them age-old recipes, cooking techniques and spices. A satay consists of a skewered slice of meat or poultry usually served with a peanut dipping sauce.

Recipe by: GOLD Restaurant
Serves: 6 – 8 people (as a starter or party snack)
Difficulty: Easy
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes


Chicken satays

5 medium-sized chicken breasts
Vegetable oil for drizzling
Roasted masala mixed with a little salt
25 stay sticks (20 cm in length)

Peanut sauce

100 g roasted and salted peanuts
6 spring onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 red chilli, seeded and thinly sliced
30 ml soya sauce
Finely grated zest and juice of ½ a lemon
5 ml brown sugar
2 ml ground cumin
125 ml coconut milk
60 ml chopped coriander
45 ml crunchy peanut butter


Chicken satays

Slice each chicken breast on the diagonal – aim for approximately 5 – 6 slices per breast.
Thread each chicken strip on the end of a satay stick.
Drizzle a little oil over each chicken satay.
Generously dust each satay with roasted masala spice that has been mixed with a little salt.
Grill chicken satays in a sandwich grill for a few seconds until just cooked through.
Serve with peanut satay sauce.

Peanut sauce

Grind the peanuts, spring onions, garlic and chilli into a coarse paste.
Mix in the soya sauce, lemon zest and juice, brown sugar, cumin and coconut cream.
Stir in the coriander and peanut butter.
Cover and chill until you’re ready to serve.

Tip: If you don’t have a sandwich grill, grill your chicken satays in the oven on a high heat for a minute or so on each side.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Babalwa Zono was born on 12 July 1980 in ill-fated Crossroads, a shantytown near Cape Town International Airport. As the name suggests, Crossroads was originally established as a transit living space for non-white South Africans in the 1970s. Initially consisting of scrub and no infrastructure, men, women and children set about building informal dwellings or shacks from wood, corrugated sheets of iron and plastic. By 1977 some 18 000 people were living there including the Zono family.


Babalwa Zono was born on 12 July 1980. She says, “my mother said I was very beautiful”. Babalwa means ‘gifted’. “Am I gifted?” she says. “I don’t know but I know I was a blessing. I was a gift to my family. After my older sister, my mother suffered three miscarriages before me. I also have a younger sister. We are all very close”.

Babalwa describes her childhood as simple and happy. Her mother was quiet and loving and her father was gentle, thoughtful and kind. He was a foreman in the construction industry. Her mother was a stay at home Mom. They were always present in her young life.

Some of her earliest memories include playing with handcrafted dolls, pretending that plastic cups were cars, helping her mother cook and clean, spending time with her best friend Portia and listening to her father’s stories.

To kill a chief

Of the stories he told her, one that she remembers vividly is the one about the mob slaughter of his village chief. Pre-Crossroads, in the late 1960s to early 1970s, the township in which her father lived was overseen by community elders and a chief. This is customary in Xhosa culture.

Certain members of the community didn’t like the chief for various reasons. The local community became increasingly disgruntled and formed an angry mob that wanted the chief dead. Babalwa’s father tried to reason with them to find another way to solve their issues, but, gathering in numbers, the mob prepared to march to the chief’s house with spears in their hands.

Fight or flight

Babalwa’s father wanted to prevent bloodshed. So he implored the chief to run, but the chief said he was standing his ground. So he appealed to the South African Police (SAP). Years later the post apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission would unearth countless cases of police collusion in Crossroads violence during the apartheid era. Nonetheless, Babalwa’s father had run out of options and anxiously related to them what had happened. The police responded by accusing him of being complicit in what had taken place. They refused to corroborate what he had to say.

At first light of the following morning, Babalwa’s father went to the chief’s house to make a last plea for him to leave. When her father arrived on the scene he found that the chief had been run through with a spear and killed. The chief’s house was on fire. There was little Babalwa’s father could do to stop it from burning to the ground.

Sentenced to jail

The police arrived. He was rounded up with all the men who had been found on the scene and taken into custody. After a trial, the death penalty was handed down to all except Babalwa’s father. The families of those sentenced to death received financial payouts: Hush money from the police acting on behalf of the apartheid government. Babalwa’s father received 10 years in jail for trying to prevent a murder.

Life behind bars

The inhuman circumstances of her father’s incarceration are painful for Babalwa to relate. Still, she’s proud of the fact that although he became less trusting and more fearful, prison didn’t break him. It didn’t change who he was as a human being. He was a good man. He still found the strength to intervene on behalf of the innocent and he remained a respected member of the community.

While Babalwa understood the injustice of the situation, as a young girl she was not fully aware of the political machinations of an apartheid regime that encouraged township violence, the likes of which would stir up even more brutal and senseless neighbour-on-neighbour killings to come.

Eviction orders

From 1975 onwards, the local government made numerous attempts to clear the shacks at Crossroads and to resettle the inhabitants to a new township called Kayelitsha. When the Crossroads residents refused to move, their homes were destroyed by a band of local men known as Witdoeke (white scarves). Thousands were left homeless. Many were senselessly killed simply for refusing to move. Babalwa was 6 at the time.

Reign of terror

May and June of 1986 would become known as a ‘reign of terror’ in which it would later be revealed that police colluded with the Witdoeke by escorting them on raids and helping to transport the vigilante gang’s ‘prisoners’ to kangaroo courts at which often harsh sentencing including the death penalty would be carried out.

By 1988 Joseph Ngxobongwana, the leader of the Witdoeke had been elected mayor of Crossroads. In 1989 tensions were brewing between Ngxobongwana and one of his Captain’s, Jeffrey Nongwe over alleged fraud and corruption on the part of the Witdoeke leader. This resulted in a split and open conflict between the two from the end of 1989 into 1990.

Amid the chaos

Babalwa and her sisters were leading as normal a life as possible amid the chaos under the protective care of her parents. In particular, their mother kept a watchful eye, never allowing them to venture too far from the house.

Babalwa was a good student. She was sporty and spent most of her free time with her best friend, Portia. They shared everything from school lunches and clothes to girly secrets.Still her life was far from idyllic.

By the age of 10, she had witnessed necklacing: People burned to death by petrol-filled tyres which were forced down the victim’s chest and arms rendering them immobile and then set on fire; police throwing tear gas; friend fighting friend; neighbour fighting neighbour. One morning she opened the front door to find a dead man lying in the doorway. His eyes had been partially removed from his head. She shakes her head as though trying to delete the memory.

The Witdoeke come knocking

All the men in the local community were being called upon to choose sides and fight. One day, one of the factions was banging on their door to fetch Babalwa’s father. He was told that he and his family would be killed if he didn’t participate. Reluctantly, he went with the band of vigilantes.

While the extent of his participation is unclear, what is clear is that the person who came back was not the father she knew. He was admitted to Tygerberg hospital for observation and never came home. He died three days later. She says, “It was the violence that killed him”. He was buried in the Eastern Cape, the place of his birth.

Without my Father

When her father died, their living conditions, which, until now had not been easy by any means, worsened. They lived in poverty. Babalwa’s mother was angry and bitter for a time. She cried a lot. Babalwa leaned on her friend Portia. Babalwa says, “She is my sister. Everything she had, she shared with me”.

Two years later, the two friends completed grade 7. Portia moved to the other side of Gugs (Gugulethu) township. While Gugs was adjacent to Crossroads, for the two friends it seemed worlds apart. Still, they saw each other as often as possible, once a month or so. Babalwa never forgot Portia’s generosity, particularly when her father died. The two remain close to this day.

Her mother is still a major presence in her life, and, although her father passed away a long time ago, his memory is a comfort to her. That said, she has never been able to completely reconcile the violent circumstances of his passing with the kind and gentle man she knew him to be.

Becoming a mother

Now in her teens, Babalwa was a star netball player, she sang in the high school choir, loved to read books and spend time with her school friend Nthombokhanyo. In high school, Babalwa had dreams of becoming a nurse. She wanted to care for people who couldn’t care for themselves. She says, “In the old days, in our culture we cared for older people, we cared for our community. I wanted to bring back the old ways, the ways of our culture”.

In 1999, Babalwa now 17 and still at school, fell pregnant and had her first child, a little girl she named Khanyo. Three days after giving birth she went back to school to complete her education. After completing her schooling she set aside her dreams of becoming a nurse and went in search of work to support herself and her child.


Thobela is Babalwa’s first love and the father of her children. They had their second child in 2008, a little boy, called Uyathandwa. Babalwa smiles sadly and says, that while she has never broken any hearts she’s had hers broken, only once, on 30 October 2010. It was Uyathandwa’s second birthday and preparations were underway for celebrations at their home in Crossroads.

Babalwa was in the house; Uyathandwa was in the care of a neighbour who was holding his hand while attempting to cross the road. A car came hurtling down the road, mounted the pavement and hit Uyathandwa, who in spite of being rushed to hospital, passed away. She says, “I lost my mind”. She fell apart. Even with the love and support of her family, depression medication and counselling, every day felt as though she was reliving the horror of that day.

Reaching out to my father

Her cousin who lived in the Eastern Cape suggested that Babalwa come and stay with her. She says, “Lying in bed I could still feel his little body lying next to me". She had to get away so she decided to visit her famiIy in the Eastern Cape. She says, that while there, “I visited my father’s grave and prayed for guidance. It was painful. I had to tell my heart that my baby was gone”.

Even though she felt as though she was going to die from the pain she dug deep. She says, “My parents and all that I had experienced in my life up to that point had taught me to be strong. Even though I felt as though I was pining away from the pain, I started focusing on Khanyo. She was also my child. She was suffering too. I had to go on for her. Looking back, it was when I visited my father’s grave that I began to heal”.

The road to GOLD

In 2012, two years after Uyathandwa passed away, Babalwa joined GOLD Restaurant where she currently works as a chef. Crediting a woman called Emily Njengele as being the biggest influence on her career she says, Emily was the one who welcomed her to Africa CafĂ©, her first job and the restaurant she worked at before working at GOLD. She says, “I had always loved to cook, but she taught me so much more about African food”.

Sadly, Emily who had also joined GOLD, passed away, but by then cooking and sharing through food, particularly dishes and techniques from all over the continent, not just South Africa, had become a big part of Babalwa’s life.

One of the first things Babalwa discovered at GOLD is that, “This is a place that takes care of its people. We love each other. Our hearts are open. We argue like family but we share our problems”.

In her current role as chef, she says that her employer, Cindy places great care in ensuring the menu is authentically African and equally tasty. In turn, Babalwa and the rest of the kitchen take great care in its preparation. She maintains that everything guests experience, including the food, is made with love. She says it’s the reason people from all over the world come to GOLD.

Beware the Indubula

In spite of everything she has experienced, Babalwa says she is afraid of nothing. Then she smiles and says, “Except for indubula” (frogs).

One year, when visiting family in the Eastern Cape over the festive season when she was a young girl she came face to face with a huge croaker. She covers her eyes as though trying to block out the memory and says, “The cattle were grazing outside when it leapt into the house through the front door. It was a BIG frog. Still today, I’m afraid of their bulging eyes and the noise they make when they croak”.

While life has taught her to be strong and outwardly tough, Babalwa has a reflective sensitive side. She smiles wistfully and says, “I cry when I think of Uyathandwa but I don’t only cry tears of sadness. I have joy in my life and I cry tears of joy too. However, I’m also quick to anger. I struggle to control my anger. I don’t know why I get angry so easily but I’m working on that”.

In a surprising revelatory twist she reveals that Nongwe of the Witdoeke was her Uncle. One day – she can’t remember the exact date – and though a teenager, as his relative, she was tasked by the community with asking him to leave Crossroads. They felt he might listen to reason if it came from her. They didn’t want the blood of innocent people anymore. It didn’t matter whose blood or whose side you were on. He agreed. The community packed his things in a truck. He left and the bloodshed stopped.

Avenging the circumstances of her past

Coretta Scott King once said, “Revenge and retaliation always perpetuate the cycle of anger, fear and violence”. In spite of her anger, Babalwa feels no spite and no need to avenge the circumstances of her past.

Looking back, she’s grateful to her parents for who she has become. She says, “I am humble. I share. I give. I have learned not to underestimate people, good and bad. I have learned that being a mother is about teaching your children how to deal with life. I have known pain, and may know it again, but I also know the great joy of having children”. Revisiting the dreams of her girldhood, she is currently studying a part-time course in community health and nursing.  It’s in her nature to do for others.

The people I admire most

Her mother, now 69, left Crossroads for good in August 2017 and returned to the Eastern Cape. Babalwa says, “We are friends. I share all things with my mother. She inspires me”. When asked about whom she admires most, she says, “I salute Mandela but I admire the ordinary people who struggle everyday, like the people of Crossroads”, where Babalwa lives to this day.

In 2012, the year that she joined GOLD Restaurant, she and Thobela welcomed their third child into the world. Her face beams when she says, “His name is Oyisa and it means blessing”.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Make the first offering at your next dinner party hassle-free and utterly palate-thrilling with these easy do-it-yourself South African cocktails.


As the name suggests, this refreshingly cool cocktail is made from basil leaves with vodka, lime, and simple syrup (sugar water). A minute pinch of barbecue spice mix adds a subtle, nutty twist.


50 ml vodka
Juice of 1 lime
20 ml simple syrup (sugar water)
4 basil leaves (keep one aside for garnish)
Small pinch of Robertsons Barbecue Spice
Ice cubes


Place the simple syrup and 3 basil leaves in a metal shaker.
Fill the shaker with ice cubes.
Add the vodka and lime juice.
Shake and strain contents into a tumbler.
Top with a sprinkle of Robertsons barbecue Spice.
Garnish with a basil leaf.

Cape Snow

Van der Hum is an amber-coloured, tangerine-flavoured liqueur. Blended with a decent glug of brandy and ice cream, this versatile cocktail doubles as a socially acceptable way to drink your dessert.


30 ml brandy
30 ml Van Der Hum Liqueur
2 tablespoons vanilla ice cream
Slice of orange to garnish


Flash blend ingredients until drinkably creamy.
Pour into a wine glass.
Garnish the lip with a slice of orange.

Elephant’s Reverie

Made from the fruit of the Marula tree, Amarula Cream has distinctive pepper and caramel flavours with a hint of citrus. When you blend Amarula Cream with Frangelico and cream, it transforms into the ultimate guilty pleasure. It also works as a boozy dessert in a glass.


60 ml Amarula Cream
30 ml Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
15 ml pouring cream
Crushed ice
A pinch of chocolate powder and fresh cherries to garnish


Combine the Amarula Cream, Frangelico, pouring cream and ice in metal shaker (shake) or blender (brisk blend).
Pour the mix into a highball glass.
Garnish with a sprinkle of chocolate powder and fresh cherries

The Ama-lekkerlicious

Brandy is widely regarded as one of South Africa’s best-loved spirits. Matched with peach syrup, cranberry juice and bitters, this crisp competition-winning cocktail can shake up any gathering.


25 ml brandy
12.5ml peach syrup
50 ml cranberry juice
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
3 splashes of bitters
Slice of orange rind to garnish


Take a whiskey glass and dip the lip into orange sherbet.
Combine brandy, peach syrup, cranberry juice, lemon juice and bitters in a metal shaker.
Shake and strain contents into the sherbet-lipped whiskey glass.
Garnish the lip with an orange rind twist.

The Fynbos

Made from fynbos, rooibos tea, brandy, honey, and ginger liqueur this award winning quintessentially South African cocktail is the perfect aperitif for two on a wintery night.


50 ml brandy
50 ml rooibos tea
25 ml simple syrup (sugar syrup)
12.5 ml ginger liqueur
1 teaspoon honey
A dash of bitters (optional)
Lemon / lime peel to garnish


Combine the brandy, rooibos tea, cooled sugar syrup, ginger liqueur, honey and bitters (optional) in a metal shaker.
Shake and strain contents into a pre-chilled Martini glass.
Garnish with a slice of lemon or lime.

Tip: To make simple syrup (sugar water) mix one part boiling water with two parts sugar. Stir until dissolved and allow to cool.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

During his 27-year incarceration Nelson Mandela wrote to his then wife, Winnie, “How I long for amasi, thick and sour! You know darling there is one respect in which I dwarf all my contemporaries or at least about which I can confidently claim to be second to none – healthy appetite”.

Strictly speaking, Amasi is fermented, sour milk. Umphokoqo is crumbly pap, a type of thick maize porridge (also known as ‘miliepap’). When amasi is poured over umphoko it is known as umvubo. Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. Regardless of word preference, umvubo fans claim it is the ideal meal to consume on a warm day as the cold sour milk poured over the crumbly pap is said to cool down the body.

Food trail to London

While famous, Mandela’s palate was simple. When released from prison in 1992, he set about looking for someone who could prepare the traditional home cooked, hearty meals he craved. Xoliswa Ndoyiya, or “Xoli” as he affectionately referred to her became his personal chef from 1992 until his death in 2013. Once, when out of the country on presidential business, Mandela missed Xoliswa’s cooking so much that he had her prepare umphokogo and have it shipped to London.

What is home food?

In 2011 Xoliswa published Ukutya Kwasekhaya: Tastes from Nelson Mandela’s Kitchen. In her book she says, she talks about how she came to be Mandela’s chef. He said to her, “I believe that you are a great cook, but can you cook our food?” She replied that she could cook ukutya kwasekhaya and in her words, “that was that”. In isiXhosa, Mandela’s first language, ukutya kwasekhaya means “home food”. It is traditional Xhosa food, the food he was always happiest eating.

Mandela’s best-loved dishes

In Mandela’s household food was more than sustenance. It was about tradition, family, home, sharing and enjoying meals with those he loved. Some of his best-loved mains included usu or tripe (usually cow or sheep stomach lining and offal) and umsila wenkomo or oxtail stew. Favourite side dishes included umqushu (samp made from corn with beans).

While warning his grandchildren about the pitfalls of too much sugar and nudging them away from sweet treats he was known for some dessert indulgences of his own. These included malva pudding, a sweet baked dessert served with either ice cream or custard, and strawberry trifle, which is a layered cake, cream and fruit dessert.

Showing appreciation with food

For Xoliswa cooking for Mandela and his family for more than 20 years was her way of giving back to the man who had selflessly sacrificed so much. While not adverse to trying different foods particularly when globe trotting as a statesman, he preferred the simple tastes of the traditional food he ate as boy. In prison, he yearned for the dishes of his childhood and he always paid tribute to his mother’s cooking, happily sharing memories of her cooking for him with love. 

Edible Gold © 2013 | 5D