The Belly Diaries
This, too, was meant for Anazo… Forgive me dear friend, like all writers, I hate seeing a good piece of writing go unpublished. 🙂
Getting into the working class is a feat most young South Africans are currently struggling with. The lucky ones get to deal with the beaurocracy of standing in long queues at SARS for the first time. (Thus giving SARS the permission to take a share of your hard earned money out of your bank account come pay day. So, you, the tax payer can finance more of the millions that government officials spend on holidays, helicopter rides and meals from Nandos – which, I might add, YOU may never get to enjoy. .. Except for the Nandos… If you’re lucky.)
So here I am one of the lucky ones, I’ve got a brand new job and like all people looking forward to seeing that first pay slip, I need to be a registered tax payer. To my surprise, the SARS branch in the North West of Jozi, in Randburg was extremely efficient. You walk in, talk to the person at reception, get a slip with a number which one of the numerous tellers will call to help you.
This is a far cry from the service one gets from the Mthatha branch, or so I’ve been told. (I’m inclined to believe that my home town’s SARS is not very user friendly… Neither are any of our public service renderers like the post office, local business or banks are, on any given day, ever efficient.)
Anyhow, I’m in and out SARS in an hour tops. Rightly so… I got lost for two hours while trying to locate the darn place! I’m thirsty, hungry and tired from walking around half the morning, so on my way to the Randburg taxi rank, while walking passed the Randburg Square mall I entered a small cafe where I found the cure to all the troubles of that morning… Chocolate-chocolate chip muffins!
The sight of them in that grass basket by the till, all individually wrapped, dark brown and about the size of a cricket ball. They were calling my name, and I was all too keen to answer. I bought two muffins, knowing that there is no way anything made from or of chocolate should be taken in moderation, and I went on my merry way. Anticipating the explosion of bliss my taste buds would later experience, I got into a taxi heading into the CBD.
As I sat in the front seat of a blue taxi, with my head phones snug around my ears, pouring the soothing sounds of Lira’s music into my ears, my untimely end flashed in front of my eyes as the taxi I was in collided with a white Audi in front of us.
The collision was not fatal, thank heavens, but it did rattle me. So I leapt out of the taxi as fast as my heavy bones could, and straight onto another, dead set on getting my thick butt back home safely so I could retell the story to someone, anyone… As long they were alive and were available to bear witness to my having survived, unscathed.
As soon as I reached the CBD I thought to go straight to my friends flat (because they were there and I needed to calm my nerves with seeing familiar and friendly faces.) After Loyiso opened for me, I immediately sat on a stool, opened my bag and took the muffins out so I could, before anything else, thank Creation for (A) my life and (B) the wonderment that is chocolate-chocolate chip muffins.
I told both Loyiso and Bukelwa of my horrific taxi tale, who ‘ooh-ed’ and aah-ed’ in the usual fashion people do after hearing of such near death incidents. And we shared a huge laugh over me waking away from there with both my life and two of some awesome tasting muffins.
I must say, never have I enjoyed the simple treat of a muffin as I did that day. And though I’m eating one now, as I write this, the muffins I had that day will forever go down as the best I’ve had in my short life.
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 🙂
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.