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In search of biltong and music in the Hantam Karoo

A greying manageress sauntered over, sensing my distress, and asked what was going on. Between sobs I managed to tell her the whole sorry story.
“My dear,” she said, “this is Calvinia, we don’t go in for music here.”

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It was Daisy de Melker, in the kitchen, with a knife

RACK of lamb is the spurned lover seeking revenge, which is not to say it is a dish best served cold. Neither should rack of lamb be served overly hot for that matter. Unlike revenge, it is a dish best served warm, just as its colour should be neither a virulent red nor a tired […]

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A beef shortrib stew for the Rising Sun

This was to have been a column about oxtail. I went along to Pick n Pay, as I am wont to do these days (my old Woolies-or-death approach just was not working any more, said my bank manage in hard tones while fixing me with That Look). I have seen packs of oxtail in Pick n Pay every day for the past two months. But this is where that other haphazard law comes into play, the law that decrees: “The day that you want to cook the item you keep seeing in the store is the day they won’t have any more.” You know the law.

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Feeling peaky with a devilish Beef and Ale Pie

At least, if you do drink beer of one kind or another, you’ll be better off than the disdainful frown and roll of the eyes you’ll get if you’re offered a drink in a pub and your reply is, “Yes please, I’ll have a glass of sauvignon blanc.” This is worse than admitting to rogering sheep or complaining that the tradition of Page 3 girls is demeaning to women.

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Slow food to lift the blackest cloud

Never mind silver linings, in the dark of winter you know that what you need a warm place, the love of family, the kitchen range lit, logs in the fireplace, and a tender crackling. You need a slow simmer, a pot emitting a steam filled with joy and promise, and as the aromas build and the day recedes, taking with it its woes and challenges, you know what you have to do.

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Bobotie, the essence of the old Cape colony

NOTHING says Cape cuisine like bobotie. In one word, in one dish, is summed up the essence of colonial food at the southern tip of Africa. In one dish you have all of our combined history, the spiciness of our cultures, the fruitiness of our natures, the nuttiness that it takes to forge a life at the Cape with all its weather, idionsyncracies and lust for life.

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The veal deal

Veal, veal, veal, at the risk of being as offensive as Basil Fawlty was to his German guests in an episode of Fawlty Towers, quite by chance the subject of this week’s column turns out to be a veally, veally good one. But not everyone will share my joy in cooking slivers of the controversial meat.

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Learning to cook at my mom’s elbow

In the chill of a Yorkshire winter in what was then the West Riding of that large northern English county, where Cathy called for Heathcliff in whipping winds on grim moors, the pretty girl with wide-set cornflower blue eyes would have to hold her hand out to be stuck repeatedly with the back of a hairbrush when the orphanage carers – for want, perhaps, of another word – would deem some wrong to have been done.

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Keith Richards and other mashed-up bangers

A banger is a clapped-out, stutter-start old car that knows the next stop is the breakers. A banger is an old rocker, a wizened Keith Richards who can’t see his fans any more but can still find his guitar chords. A banger is a heady cocktail of vodka, Galliano and orange juice, with a maraschino garnish to fool you into believing that a Harvey Wallbanger doesn’t pack a kick.

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Adding salt to the great curry debate

At such gatherings inevitably there will be somebody who insists that a curry should never be salted, and I generally shut up and leave them to drone on about it, while being tempted to say, “Why don’t you just taste the curry you’ve made and your palate will give you the answer?”

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