There is no word in the English language that can describe the feelings associated with padkos. It is just so much more than a packed lunch.
Padkos is excitement. It fills you with the anticipation of going to the seaside or seeing your far away niggies and nefies for the first time in a while. It is part of the exhilaration of sitting next to the road at a picnic table chomping on a cold chicken drumstick whilst traffic whizzes past you at 120km/h, hooting at you just because you have a ‘T’ number plate. It is the sulphuric stench in the back of the car when you are sneaking a hard-boiled egg when you think no-one is watching. It is the yellow stains on your fingers from trying to hold more than one kerrie frikkadel in the fear of your brother swiping the lot when you are still eating your sandwich spread toebie. It is the thrill of knowing your tongue is going to burn on the boiling hot coffee, but you drink it anyway.
In the days of going to the drive-in, padkos also became dinner. Forget the popcorn. We were much more excited to chomp on boiled eggs, cold chicken drumsticks, frikkadelle, sardine toebies when my mother made it or cheese toasties when my father made it. Don’t forget the thermos flask of hot coffee to see you through the chilly evening. There was something very fun about drinking boiling hot coffee from the little cup on the top of the thermos flask.
I remember well when my brother and I was little: we lived about a kilometre from the treinspoor. Each time we went to visit my ouma and oupa in Boksburg or if we go see toe, we insisted on having our padkos the moment we went over the treinspoor. It was the highlight of our trip to see what my mother had packed for us, although we helped wrapping up those toebies!
When I was around 5 years old we went to the Pilanesberg for a safari day out. I was desperately hungry – 5am departure is way too early for 5-year-old me – and I have been begging since the treinspoor for my share of the padkos. My dad was certainly getting keelvol with my moaning and said that the first person to see a bokkie will be the person that can eat their padkos. We kept our eyes peeled for any movement in the golden dawn. As soon as we bumped off the tarred road and onto the dusty sinkplaat pad that lead up to the gate of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve I screamed in excitement at the top of my voice. I just saw a bokkie. My dad skopped briek as he thought something terrible must’ve happened. A red dusty cloud camouflaged our blue halted kombi to the point of being invisible. I yelled again: ‘I saw a bokkie! I can eat!’ My father, in total disbelief, decided to investigate this claim of mine first before the final ‘who gets to eat their padkos’ verdict. The now red camouflaged kombi reversed back up the sinkplaat pad. A small little Steenbokkie looked onto this spectacle, not fazed by all the commotion. Right there and then my dad stopped the kombi, went to the back and got out the coolbox. We haven’t even paid to get into the reserve yet!
I now live in England where you no longer have to drive for two days to dip your toes in freezing saltwater. We recently went to Cornwall for a holiday on the stunning English west coast.
We were barely hitting the motorway when my British husband asks: ‘So, what’s for padkos?’