28 October 2009

Malay I Have Some More, Asseblief?!

On my ride into the city from the Cape Town airport on Monday night, I had a feeling that my driver was a Cape Malay man. His wife (I assumed she was his wife but could have been wrong) was sitting in the front passenger's seat -- which, incidentally, is where much of the world's front driver's seat would be found -- during our 20+ minute ride. I happened to mention that I was interested in learning about local cuisines on my travels and how Cape Malay cuisine was on my radar. The driver, Manie, effectively said "look no further" and remarked that his wife, now patting the person in the passenger's seat on the shoulder, was the best Cape Malay cook around. I asked if they might be able to find a convenient for us to get together again during the week I expected to be in Cape Town. How could I pass up this opportunity?

I was picked up from De Waterkant Lodge on Friday morning by their son at 11 to go help Aziza prepare lunch. The men were to go to mosque at 1 and would come home afterwards and eat. Aziza was a gracious teacher and host. We drank rooibos tea as she talked to me about what we would be preparing: Mutton Curry (which could have been mutton bredie if we hadn't put the spices in), chicken breyani (cf biryani), onion & tomato sambal, and roti.

Around 1:30-2:00 a few people started filtering in through the front door, including Manie, Aziza & Manie's son, a nephew, and a neighbor. Introductions were made and food was put out on the table. We dined and chatted for about an hour. Meanwhile, Aziza had put some of the rootie, breyani, and curry in containers for me to take back to the lodge with me. Yes! Leftovers!

The meal I shared with these gentlemen, not to mention the delightful lady who tought me how to make it, was not only delicious but rounded off with good conversation minimally in Afrikaans but mostly in English since these were among some of the most considerate Afrikaans speakers I had met to date, conscientiously switching to English because the stranger who had made them lunch didn't understand their language. I must have said to Aziza twice that the time I was spending with her and her family that day in their home was perhaps the best time I had had in Cape Town. This was a sincere statement and holds true still.

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