I love cooking shows and recently watched a program on Comfort Food. The dishes mentioned and made, were a far cry from my idea of comfort food. It forced me to look up the meaning of comfort food, Wikipedia defines it as ‘ traditional food which often provides a nostalgic or sentimental feeling to the consumer, and is often characterized by a high carbohydrate level and simple preparation’. The most important part of the explanation is most definitely the fact that it is determined by the individual or a culture.
My list consists of family favourites requested by my siblings and I, whenever we have family reunions. I have tried on many occasions to replicate some of my mum’s most memorable dishes, and mostly after lengthy conversations about the best method to obtain the same, if not better results. To have my mum judging my baking or cooking, is a great privilege – because I have always regarded her as an excellent baker and cook. Her skills range from traditional African food to Belgian cuisine.
Matebekwane (sourdough dumplings) a mixture of flour and my mum’s secret ingredient, burnt maize meal. The maize meal is burnt with boiled water and left to cool, before mixing it with the cake/bread flour. It is steamed in a pot over large chunks of beef bone and meat. The only flavouring used is onion, salt and pepper. Divine, especially when sucking the marrow from the bones.
Fatcakes (Vetkoek) a favourite of young and old, in our family. My mum’s are best! Even, my husband thinks so because it reminds him of the ones, he had growing up. I guess that settles any dispute!
Ouma’s pudding is a steamed pudding, made with potato, raisins and dates. It has the weight and consistency of a fruitcake, and can last quite long. My eldest brother reminded us of this pudding a few weeks back. Definitely the high light of Sunday lunch, served with canned peaches from our backyard and creamy custard.
Potchefstromers are spicy scone, and without dispute the one requested all year round. We love it and only people from Potchefstroom know the secret to making the most delicious of them, all!
Ting (a sour porridge) a traditional Tswana dish made of soured sorghum. I love it! It is generally served with meat, vegetables or sugar. Nothing says comfort or reminds me of who I am and where I’m from, than the smell of ting simmering away on the stove!
The aroma of these dishes, brings back the longing for food uncomplicated and simplistic – devoid of the debates about allergens, GMO’s, preservatives and additives.
Just, real food made real good!