Thursday, September 4, 2014

Part of the GOLD experience is engaging with the beautifully attired, warm and friendly staff. They come from all over Africa and are always eager to share information on a range of topics. No question is too bizarre and will always be answered with a smile and as much information as you wish to know. On a typical evening at GOLD, these are some of the diner questions frequently asked of hosts Richard, Beatrice and Mildred.

Can I touch your skin?

Some people might think this an odd question, but Mildred takes it as a compliment. She says that many first time guests have never encountered a dark-skinned person and are politely curious. Her answer is always, “of course”.

Do I eat with my hands?

Some guests are intrigued at the prospect of eating with their hands and, out of respect; want to know the correct or customary way to do it. Cutlery is provided so that you can concentrate on the flavours and textures of Africa as opposed to grappling with maneuvering food off your plate.

Please tell me more about the African puppets?

GOLD Restaurant is all about celebrating life. Larger-than-life Mali puppets, which dance gracefully between tables, are an expression of that celebration. The Bamana people of Mali believe that masks and puppets are intermediaries between the human and spirit worlds. In other words, they are vessels for communication between the living and the dead.

What is pap and how is it prepared?

Beatrice says that people ask questions about various dishes including ingredients and preparation. Pap (a type of thick maize porridge made to various consistencies) is a staple food in many different parts of Africa. How it’s prepared and consumed varies from country to country and region to region. Pap and spinach is a popular recurring item on the GOLD menu.

How come the restaurant owner is not black?

Owner, Cindy considers herself an African. She has an African soul. According to Richard, “Cindy embraces people from all over Africa. African countries are as different from one another in geography, culture and language, as countries in Europe. He says, "she has given us the unique opportunity to learn about one another, our cultural differences and our similarities as human beings”.

How come you speak English?

South Africa has 11 official languages and many unofficial ones. English makes it easier to communicate with overseas visitors. Most guests understand a little English. Richard says, “we always find a way to communicate with guests and to give each one the best possible experience”.

Will I be able to manage the pre-dinner drumming session?

“Many of our guests have never seen or touched a djembe drum”, says Beatrice. Guests are often a little anxious about what it’s going to be like. An accomplished, patient facilitator guides all drumming sessions. Each participant guest selects their own drum and, when finished, they come away exhilarated and hungry.

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