Have you tried the skippy yet?
(South African food in Australia)
by Marlize Venter
I saw an article that someone wrote about the South African food that they miss, and the picture is one of those zoo cookies. This triggered some of my food memories.
Sometimes our South Africanness is defined by what we eat. Things like biltong and droëwors, melktert and koeksisters, and beskuit and peppermint crisp tart. We don’t bbq, we braai, and we love a gathering around a potjie.
When we immigrated to Australia, I thought my days of Mrs Balls Blatjang were long gone and that I would never taste the soft praline of an Inside Story again. The South African shop in the town where we arrived had many of those things, but the price, to this Rand paying chick, was extreme (in hindsight not as much) and I decided to forego many of the tried and tested tastes that I grew up with, or tried to do it myself. Yes, I am one of those, why buy it for $7 when I can make it for $92, kind of girls.
So I googled and found recipes for Blatjang, that tasted exactly like Mrs Balls. What the Aussies call chutney and what we call blatjang are not the same. I’ve never been one for mayonnaise, but the same principle applies. I baked beskuit (dunking rusks) from mieliemeel (you can do that) and my hubby made biltong in a plastic tub biltong maker that he made.
We supported friends of ours who made their own boerewors. And we learned how to use a skippy (kangaroo) in a wildspotjie with vingerlek-lekker results.
Dear Migrant to the Great South Land,
many Coles, Woolworths, IGA’s and Aldi’s stock South African food these days. You will be able to buy your Cross and Blackwell Mayonnaise, your Mrs Balls, Zoo Cookies, Chocolate Log, Inside Story and Caramels. Orley whip for a peppermint crisp tart, is sadly still missing, but you’ll find a recipe – if you have one, please share it with me.
You will learn about new things as well, and you will find replacements for almost everything. Game here comes in the form of a cute skippy, which by the way is the cheapest organic and almost fat-free meat you’ll get, so bring your ideas on how to get the ‘wild’ taste out, and keep an open mind – you get used to the taste. Even my kids love roo mince!
The one thing however that you will have trouble getting, is a boerewors that really tastes like what you have been used to. It is a case of ‘so baie hoofde, so baie menings’. Each person has his own preference. Many of our South African friends get together once in a blue moon and make their own. Get a recipe from an old boeretannie and try it out. The same applies to various biltong spices.
There will be days, on the shores of this land Down Under, when you will see a Ricoffy tin and have fond memories of days in another time and another place. DO NOT BUY the tin! After you have tasted the coffee of the Aussies, you’ll just be disappointed in the yellow tin’s content. Trust me!
There you go. No use trying to figure out how you will ‘smuggle in’ the biltong and the vyekonfyt. Please don’t try it – it will be the most expensive thing you do. Those fines from quarantine are huge!
As you arrive you will lament that you do not know what goes where or what food will give you which result. Just take your time, stroll through the grocery stores, look at everything, try different things, and grow as a person. Open yourself up to the experience and adventure that feel so uncomfortable in the beginning. It’s going to be all right, mate.