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Taking communion with Karoo lamb pie

Raindrops on roses, cream-coloured ponies, crisp apple strudel, schnitzel with noodles. Who drew up that bucket list? What was Julie Andrews on? Were those really snowflakes that were staying on her nose and eyelashes or some other white substance?

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Strange days and lamb shanks

We traversed the entire country, and always the night stop, my sister and I each in our own hotel bedrooms, hearing the dinner gong as a man in a uniform wandered up and down the corridors tinkling a xylophone. I’d have to wear a white shirt, tie and jacket and we’d go down for the first sitting, soup – consommé, cream of tomato or celery – then poached fish with sauce, and more ofen than not roast leg of lamb or beef with three veg and gravy.

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Treat the braai as a tandoor

Animals, says South Africa’s reigning braai guru, Jan Braai, eat grass, leaves and vegetables which they then convert to meat. Now this is a tremendously wise saw, and makes perfect sense. To take this wisdom to its logical conclusion, then, one must urge all vegetarians to adopt a meat diet at once to ensure that they get all that wonderful vegetable nutrition.

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Duck fat is sizzling hot for roast potatoes

Woolies recently seemed to take a flyer and stock up on chunky tubs of duck fat, something that I have occasionally asked for over the past couple of years, always to be met with a puzzled frown, as if to say, “Why the hell would anybody want to buy that?”

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A Karoo roadside braai

Koppies in all directions. Lowslung mountains with milky purple coats. Verges of tufted fynbos, knobbly Karoo herbs and an occasional scrunched Coke can. Ry-gos interrupt you with an enforced break for a stretch and a waft of the cigarette smoke from the rally dudes in the logo-spangled 4×4 in front. Giant trucks grind past, blowing you back into your car as the blanket-wrapped marshal lady steps out of her booth and moves the Stop sign, waving you to go.

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An idiot’s guide to the South African braai

The silliest thing about a braai is the moment when the man with the beer boep and the silly grin cracks open a can of beer and pours it over the flames, while the guests suck in a breath and let out the deep sigh of those who know their dinner is going to be late. And possibly wet.

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Mediterranean lamb shank with gremolata couscous

My parents had both, as Yorkshire folk, somehow been influenced in the kitchen by their cousins across the channel, and those methods rooted in the humblest kitchens of the French rural peasant were practised in our kitchen in farflung Namibia. I love the deeply reduced, luscious sauces, the deglazing of the pan to capture every last of the essences that have been developing during cooking.

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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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Killer shanks and all that Jazzbury’s

This was the Springbok flank of shanks. Meaty and moist and superbly browned and reeking of exotic flavours, and yes, Butch, it was a ginormous one too. A very manly shank, worthy of fitting the space between a Springbok rugby boot and a bruised knee.

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Cool starters and endings and a French-trimmed rack

The racks had been given a French trim. (Calm yourself, Daisy, it has nothing to do with a Brazilian. It means the bones have been trimmed and excess fat removed.)

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