The Belly Diaries: Ox liver tales

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This was originally written for a friend’s blog site… Because it has not yet been published on her blog, and I fear it may lose its relevance… I’ve decided to post it here instead.

PS I’ll write another for you Anazo, promise 🙂

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While visiting friends who, much like me had just relocated to the City of Gold, we went out to experience some of the culture lived and enjoyed by the residents of Rondebult which is situated in the East Rand of Johannesburg.

While walking down the dusty streets of Extension 6, we saw how the Kasi life in Eastern Cape is not that far off the Kasi life lived in Gauteng. The small yards that are nestled closely next to each other create a somewhat non-existent barrier between neighbouring houses, and the tiny streets make for the obvious venue where all things recreational and otherwise occur daily.

The streets are full of people; hawkers making a living by hairdressing, making repairs to cars, washing cars, children playing cricket with old worn out planks and soccer with balls made from paper, sand and plastic, and neighbours sharing a laugh over their fences.

It felt like home. And just like home, my friends and I had to go to the local Tshisa Nyama to get some much needed food after the three, or more, beers we shared while playing pool at one of the local watering holes.

In we walked into a yard where the garage had been transformed into a make shift restaurant with long wooden benches for seats and one of those foldable plastic tables. Since I was the only lady among the three thorough bred Xhosa men, I took a seat while they made our order. Mind you, I was expecting to have some wors and beef with my pap, but lo and behold, when two green plastic plates were brought to us by the waiter I saw a heaped serving of pap and another heap of braaied ox liver matching it.

To my delight, the ox liver was well seasoned with, what the braai master told me was BBQ spice and a bit of salt. The pap, still smouldering hot, was not too soft and not too hard, making it easy to mould into small enough portions to chuck down our eager throats.  (And yes, we had to mould the pap with our hands… Something I cannot say my mother would be impressed with. After all, a lady never uses her hands to eat, not when kitchen utensils like spoons were invented to keep one from doing such. But in natural Joburg style, we did as the Joburgers do…  We ate with our unwashed, pool stick dirty and warm beer sticky hands. I imagine even that added to the flavour of our meal.)

Suffice it to say, I enjoyed the meal. It reminded me of one like it that a friend bought for me a while back at an East London taxi rank, in a container restaurant where they served fried ox liver and bread. The simplicity of the preparation of the meals makes it easy to recreate them at home. Dare I say that the popularity of the braaied, or fried ox liver with pap or bread comes from our homes… During festive times when family, friends and neighbours come together after a slaughter, and while the heavy and abundant flesh of a fallen cow simmers in a potjie on the fire, the liver moistens our appetites for a meaty feast to be relished by all.

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