Let’s face it: South Africans know how to entertain! My husband and I went home for Christmas and New Year to see my side of the family. Even though I grew up there and have lived there for most part of my life, South Africa still amazes me every time I go back there. Life there is just lived in exponentials.
Upon our arrival my mum and I went to a local supermarket. Instead of the usual packaged ready meals you would find in most fridge aisles in English supermarkets, South Africa has readymade, hot, home-cooked dishes that you can mix and match to your liking. From creamed spinach to rice to smoked pork knuckles and steak. They even have fresh salads to go as side dishes.
One of these dishes was… wait for it… Cow heels! At 2.36 per kilogram I’d still give it a pass.
As we went through the aisles I stopped dead in my tracks at the meat section. I know Africa does everything mightier and bigger than most countries, but never have I seen this anywhere else (granted, I’ve never been to the States – so I might see bigger things then!). In the meat-section there is this giant bone, just hanging around, waiting for some dog to excitedly sniff it out from under the Christmas tree as part of their stocking filler… I cannot imagine a pot that will be big enough to hold this giant dinosaur bone, let alone cook it.
Upon our return home we searched everywhere for my father and husband just to find the two sitting in the pool. By sitting I don’t mean they have their swimming trunks on and they are paddling away. Oh, no. I meant they took some plastic chairs and put it on the steps of the pool so that only their feet will dangle in the water…
Most people that have been outside of the country’s borders will know that things move somewhat quicker in other parts of the world and that Africa mainly has it’s own timeframe that when it comes to ‘doing things’. On our last Saturday before our departure my parents took us to have a sit-down breakfast at a grocery store (as you do). Since we were in-between Christmas and New Year we knew they were working with a skeleton staff, but when we were told that things would take slightly longer, we anticipated that about ½ an hour to 45 minutes will be long enough to cook four breakfasts since we were the only people there. Boy, were we wrong. Two hours later we had only received one cup of coffee for my mother and my dad’s breakfast (this was from the hot foods section of the store so it was already done). With a bit of prompting my mother received her omelette and the three of us our milkshakes we ordered when we sat down. We enquired again about my husband and my dishes just to be informed that they ‘ran out’ of the mince that is part of the breakfast I ordered. Hmmm, ok… We are in the grocery store with heaps of mince at their disposal. I guess the now nearly three hours was too short a time to cook the mince. I asked the waitress for the mince element to be replaced with a Russian sausage.
‘Ok, I will bring you Russian and chips!’
‘No, no, just replace the mince with a sausage.’
‘You want to change your order to sausage and chips meal?’
The manager finally understood the request after several attempts at communicating my heart’s desires.
When that breakfast arrived we were famished. Two cold fried eggs and ice cold, dried-out toast has never tasted better! Much to my British husband’s amazement the waitress casually came over to clear our dishes at the end of the meal: by putting all the plates, cutlery and glasses in a shopping trolley ready to be carted back to the kitchen! Only in Africa…