Last week was such a crazy busy week full of work related stress. Our team is most likely finishing at our current client at the end of March, but this has not been confirmed as yet. That is always a bit uncomfortable. We were very behind in our delivery due to the client being unable to assist us with technical design issues we were having but last week the consultant who does technical support for the project was over from Germany and he was able to offer some suggestions for our developer to try and we finally appear to have cracked it late on Friday. Progress!! I was ready to celebrate that night.
I had booked at Cheyne’s on Friday evening for dinner with friends and it was a great way to kick off the weekend. Norm and I arrived first.
I ordered a Passionate Buddha Cocktail to get me started. It is described as ‘belvedere vodka, fuji apple juice with toasted cardoman, ginger, fresh mint leaves shaken with passion fruit, star anise and mandarin puree and topped with MCC.’ I loved that it had a few visible whole star anise, a fig and various other bits to add visual interest as well as flavour.
But be prepared mentally as the drinks took on average 30 minutes each to arrive. I ordered one on arrival and then another one as soon as I sipped down that one and I only managed to get 2 down me all night. So much for my desire to celebrate our work successes by imbibing in copious quantities of vodka cocktails.
Our friends Andy and Alison arrived shortly after we did.
And our friend Nicola who is over from Bath at the moment arrived just after.
Once we all chatted a bit and ordered some wine for the table we all perused the menu and the waiter told us what was on the specials list for the night. We opted for the Yum Cha Experience which is R260 per person for any 4 items on the menu.
Several of us ordered the Firecracker Crayfish which is an additional R25 per person.
It was perfectly cooked and really divine. I have had this before and if it is on offer I always order it.
For my other sea choice I picked the Chilli Salt Squid with sesame mayo, green chilli caramel. There were some lovely pickled red onions on top which I also enjoyed. The squid was crispy and not at all chewy. However it arrived while I was still eating my crayfish.
So I had 2 dishes in front of me at this point, yet Norm had not been served anything as yet. I find that this is where Cheyne’s has shortcomings, not ensuring that people are all being served at least one dish at a time. Either the dishes ‘pile up’ and you cannot appreciate them slowly before they get cold or alternatively you sit watching everyone else eat with an empty plate in front of you. It happens almost every time but we go back again and again as we love the food.
The third dish I was served was the Mumbai Chilli Beef: soy, cardoman and ginger syrup with toasted coconut. This is one of my all time faves and it did not disappoint.
Norm was delighted when his Hake arrived. Described as ‘Kombu roasted hake, miso, mirin, sake and pickled Japanese turnip’. Several people at the table had this and all said it was a lovely piece of fish.
Norm’s next dish arrived from the Earth section of the menu almost at the same time, he had ordered the pan fried tender stem broccoli, sweet garlic miso and bonito flakes. Norm loved this dish.
We had a break while everyone finished up their courses and we chatted and laughed and had a brilliant evening.
Finally those of us who had a remaining course ordered our dessert and I stuck with my fave, the double thick peanut butter shake topped with toasted peanuts and 70% chocolate soil.
We all headed out just after 10pm and finally got in the car after a long South African goodbye in the car park. It was a great night of amazing food and good friends.
On Saturday Norm and I had a lazy day as Josh, Lily and David were off at the track as Josh was racing that day.
It was really hot so we settled in downstairs with all of the doors and windows open to let in the stray breeze.
Norm was reading an article on his iPad and when I asked him what he was reading about he told me the story of Sarah Baartman whose name I had heard before but about whom I knew no background story. The story he told me horrified me and when he said that there was a film called Black Venus about her life we decided to try and find it on YouTube.
The version we watched was multilingual with English subtitles. It was a two part video and the links are here for PART ONE and PART TWO. It is difficult viewing but I think it is required viewing if you wish to understand some of the challenges that women and people of colour had in that time in history.
Sarah, or Sara, or Saartjie as she was re-named by the slave trader who took her to Europe, was a Khoikhoi woman born in 1789 in the Eastern Cape to a nomadic family of cattle herders. She spent her childhood living on a colonial farm where her family most likely worked as servants and after her parents both died she was engaged to marry a Khoikhoi drummer. He was murdered and their baby died and Sara was later taken into the slave trade by Pieter Willem Cezar and sent to work for his brother’s family in the Western Cape.
While Sara was working for the Cezar family the brothers Cezar came into an agreement with a man named William Dunlop and Cezar and Dunlop transported Sara to London for the purposes of displaying her and her ample bottom as a freak show anomaly.
They had a flesh coloured bodysuit made and displayed Sara in a cage in Piccadilly Circus and in various private parties where the guests were invited to touch her buttocks to prove they were so large and round due to legitimate flesh and not just stuffing. Sara allegedly objected strongly to being touched in such an intimate manner by strangers as you can imagine anyone would.
Sara also had what has been called a Hottentot Apron or Khoisan Apron. This is an extended labia. This was a source of great fascination.
After 4 years Sara was transported from Great Britain to France where the social scene was less prudish by nature. Rumours are that Sara was prostituted to raise more money, money which most likely never even made its way into Sara’s pockets. From what I have read it seems that Sara was victimised or abandoned by everyone who was in her life.
The French naturalist and zoologist Georges Cuvier (a.k.a Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric or Baron Cuvier) met Sara in Paris and was fascinated with her and wished to study and document her anatomy. Sara’s body was studied by French anatomists, zoologists and physiologists from March 1815 after which Cuvier concluded that she represented a link between animals and humans. Cuvier was convinced that Sara was proof that her race had descended from the mating of her ancestors with orangutans.
Sara Baartman died in 1816 at the age of 26. It is unknown whether she died from alcoholism, smallpox or pneumonia. Cuvier obtained her remains from local police and dissected her body after he made a plaster cast of her full body. He pickled her brain and genitals which were then displayed at the Musée de l’Homme until 1974. The story of Sara Baartman resurfaced in 1981 when Stephen Jay Gould, an American palaeontologist wrote about her story in his book “The Mismeasure of Man” where he criticised racial science.
When the African National Congress (ANC) took over as the ruling party in SA, President Mandela requested that the French government return Sara’s remains so that she could be laid to rest in her place of origin. The process took eight years as the French had to draft a bill that would not allow other countries to claim treasures taken by the French.
Finally on the sixth of March 2002, Sara Baartman was brought back home to South Africa where she was buried. On 9 August 2002, Women’s Day, a public holiday in South Africa, Sara was buried in the Eastern Cape Province where her family originated.
Sara lived a tragic sad life where she was treated as property of the men who traded off her offerings. I was really saddened by her story but it is a story that needs to be told.
Norm and I decided that as we were on our own for dinner we would cheer ourselves up and treat ourselves to dinner out so we headed down to the local venue Papino’s for dinner.
Norm was happy to get an icy cold glass of sauvignon blanc.
I had a wee vodka.
We love their steaks and so we had our usual. Hollandse Biefstuk at R172.00, Pan-fried beef fillet with mushrooms flambéed with brandy. It comes with a side of fresh steamed veggies and your choice of potato. Norm had normal chips but I had the Portuguese chips. I love the crispiness of them.
We ordered a side of extra mushrooms and a portion of onion rings.
We had a lovely relaxed dinner and then headed home. Josh won his races and they arrived back home just after 10pm. They were knackered though and were off to sleep soon thereafter.
The next morning Norm was kind enough to pop down to the shops for coffee, milk and pastries for the crowds. I made up a tray with fig preserves, soft butter and grated cheese for those eating plain croissants and we all settled outside with frothy coffees and pastries. I chose a chocolate croissant and a muffin, both of which Panda had his eye on……
After they finished breakfast they showered and packed and Lily and David headed out to make the long journey down the coast to the Garden Route.
I decided to potter about in the garden and I nipped a few offshoots from my thriving succulents and planted them in some pots at the back of the house. Everything else has died due to the drought. I added some little pans under the pots to catch what water they do receive and I will just have to hope for these to take root and grow like the many succulents at the front of the house I have planted.
When Norm had gone down to the shops that morning he also bought us some food to braai for dinner as it was very warm so we did not want to turn on the kitchen stove. He cooked it all on the gas grill. He grilled chicken thigh kebabs, chicken sausages stuffed with feta and herbs and halloumi. To go with all that goodness he did a mix of sweet potato, onions, green beans and baby broccoli.
We had a lovely relaxed evening.
There have been several global outbreaks of Listeria recently and SA is no exception. There have been at least 180 deaths here which have been linked to listeria and this weekend they announced the culprit. It was due to polony which is similar to American bologna (i.e. some nasty assed stuff). The outbreak in Oz was traced to a sexy, round juicy melon. Ours to plastic horrid meat. Typical.
Tonight Norm cooked for us again. He made chicken breasts stuffed with Brie cheese, mushrooms and sweet corn on the gas grill and I sliced fresh figs and coleslaw to go with it.
I read on social media about an initiative that the local community centre Workspace have started. It is a feeding scheme which they are calling “Workspace Cadets”. Every Friday, Workspace offers a meal to the indigent youngsters who hang out in the harbour instead of being at school. The people who run the Workspace have gotten to know some of the kids and are attempting to understand the reasons why these children dropped out the system with an aim to help them change their attitude and to persuade them to go back to school. Today I set up a monthly debit order to buy 4 of the tokens each month. That means that every week when they do the feeding scheme one extra child will not go hungry. Some of these children in the harbour are living in horrific conditions, many of them due to drugs or alcohol in the home. If I can assist just a little with this then that makes me feel a bit better. Even though it is literally a drop in a very large bucket.
But as we are learning with living in a drought, every little drop matters.
kisses from the Kitten xoxoxo