Was anything ever more condescending than the colonisers making a pretence at bartering with the newly oppressed who, of course, had no idea that they were being conquered with sales talk? “Here, have one of these lovely scarves, pretty lady. We’ll have that land over there. And don’t worry, you and your husband can come and work on the land for us. We’ll give you a nice little pondok with a view where you can bring up our future labourers.”
Cabbage is the spotty kid who sits in the corner at the back of the class and waits for the bell to ring, then dawdles out of class slinking into the shadows in the hope that the bullies-in-chief won’t shove his head in the sandpit again.
Cabbage is the quietly talented kid who composes songs in his head but never sings them, knowing – or scared – that if he does, all the other kids will laugh and teacher will frown the frown that says, “That kid write songs? Never.”
Cabbage is the kid who dreads the day in school when you all have to stand up, one by one, and walk to the front of the class to give an oral. Facing the class is the worst thing for Cabbage Kid. They stare at you willing you to mess up, so you do. You compose a clever speech in your head but the brain doesn’t send the right speech to your vocal chords and the one that comes out is some jumbled nonsense verse that you don’t even recognise yourself.
If cabbage were an athlete, it would be the one trailing at the back while the leeks, the broccoli, the organic mangetout and especially the carrots – always, always the carrots – streak ahead and across the finishing line. Cabbage just doesn’t believe in itself. And when you don’t have self-belief, you founder. The rocks call you like wreckers on the Cornish coast flashing their evil lights at night to lure you to the shore. It’s pretty dire to be a cabbage.
Flaky people tend to be more intelligent than the rest. There’s all this stuff going on in your head, all of that creativity jangling together like Tubular Bells. And no one does flake better than the Brits. Okay, maybe the French. Almost. But add a good dollop of eccentricity to a Brit and you have the makings of entertainment drawn in broad, dayglo strokes.
Instead of having Rijk do a jack-in-a-box act and hate every minute of the evening, the speeches were succinct and despatched with while having aperitifs in the foyer before we filed in to the hotel’s The Square restaurant to dine. Thereafter, the only time you heard Rijk’s thoughts on any of his wines, and how they matched the five courses, was when you stopped at his table, or he at yours, for some one-on-one reflections on wine, food and life.
Anyone who writes about food and cooks the occasional beef fillet or writes about ordering one in a restaurant will have encountered this conundrum. You say, aloud, a sentence containing the word fillet, pronouncing it “fill it”, and sure as a downpour follows a warm, clear Cape winter’s day, someone within earshot will pipe up and “correct” you.
Far more interesting to watch was Jade, who seemed to be more of a potential chef than some of her fellow contestants, although the real reason we wanted her to stick around was in the hope she’d give in and explain to us how she managed to get a Dutch accent while growing up at the Cape. Sarel looked like some oke who had wandered off from his braai and on to the set of a cooking show and thought, “Ja, okay, I’ll do that instead of fixing the bakkie today”. Who knew he’d be able to turn out a gorgeous little cupcake? And would he ever be allowed back at the braai by his mates?
This is not the side of food column writing that you normally get to see. You probably imagine it to be all fine dinner parties and genteel patter while cool music wafts in the air and things gently simmer and bubble in gorgeous little pots and the expectant hordes drool imperceptibly into their bibs at the sheer wonder of the impeccable repast shortly to be set before them.
Pickled as French farmers are much of the time, this is understandable. If you are French, it is your duty to make sure that there is at least a glass or two of red wine in you at all times, to ensure that you live a long life and keep the possibility of a heart attack at bay. Or that’s your story anyway.