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Forlorn dogs, good ole boys and macaroni cheese

It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that macaroni cheese is popular among Country & Western songwriters. It’s just the thing after a night on stage pouring your heart out to your foot-stompin’, hair-tuggin’, breast-beatin’ fans about how your wife ran off with the handsome cowboy from the neighbouring ranch, the dog died of a broken heart (country singers’ dogs do that if they haven’t already fled to the neighbouring county to get away from all the goddamn caterwauling), or the lowlife yeller bastard you married left you for some tight-jeans-wearin’, over-mascara’d cow(girl) he met at the hoedown.

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The Roasting of the Killer Tomatoes

The tomato has been said to be just one chromosome removed from the human being. (I know – I also know some people like that.) This must be very worrying for tomatoes. Looking at the human world around them, they must marvel that they are almost capable (but for a solitary chromosome) of the kind of evils their human cousins are able to indulge in.

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Five spices and don’t duck the flavour

A good formula should not be messed with. No one wants to hear you say, ‘Well, I made five spice but I changed it – I used goji berries instead of the star anise and pumpkin seeds instead of the fennel. Oh, and I left out the cinnamon. And the cloves.”

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Coconut, cardamom and cauliflower in a soup

This is something that Gautengers do not seem able to understand. To many from north of the mighty Vaal, where weather is presumed to be as regular as the daily afternoon thunderstorm, there are thought to be two Cape seasons – one constantly windy, the other constantly wet.

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Liver & Onions: ironic if not iconic

Offal is such an ironic food, if you think about it. It’s the cheapest red meat going, to be found at the bargain bin end of the supermarket or butchery fridge. It’s eaten by the poorest people of the world, and often thought of as “peasant” food, not that we would apply the term in South Africa, although they would and do in France.

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Fennel, spice and fruit for the chop

Cape of spice. Cape of fruit. At the Cape, we have an abundance of both, so when faced with neatly trimmed organic pork chops and an empty frying pan, it’s time to raid the spice rack. But don’t get carried away. Pork, despite coming from such a huge beast, has a delicate flavour, and does not benefit from spices being chucked at it with wild abandon.

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Shaking flavour with Szechuan pepper

I recently rediscovered my flavour shaker. It had been given to me for Christmas several years ago, and then we moved house, and you know how it is – a box gets unpacked, you think ‘where shall I put this’, you shove it in a cupboard, and after three years of complaining that somebody stole the Jamie Oliver flavour shaker you lift up a forgotten implement and there it is.

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Boeber, lamb shank curry and fresh turmeric chutney

Boeber is as ‘Cape Town’ as Cape brandy tart, the Cape Doctor, over-priced fancy-schmancy restaurants and claims that ‘it has never rained like this/blown like this/been so hot at this time of the year before’.

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Fiddling with Malay spices and akhni

Akhni is the kind of spice blend that should be celebrating the Cape on at least half of the local restaurant menus, yet I don’t recall ever having seen it outside of a recipe book or a friend’s dinner table. Why is that? The dish screams “Cape cuisine” yet ask all the major chefs cooking for our thronging tourists if they serve akhni on their menus, or even know what it is, and I reckon you’d be met with a sea of blank expressions.

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Potatoes, queen of the garden, king of the plate

How to cook your potatoes for Christmas dinner? Here are some ways… The German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argued that a diet consisting predominantly of them “leads to the use of liquor”, which would be enough for some of us to stockpile them, just in case.

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