One of the perks of visiting Cape Town is the potential of my parents kitchen, and the local grocery store and woolies. Not to mention all the deli’s and food markets! Our multi-culturalism and geographical setting, half-way on the spice-route, has definitely deposited many culinary possibilities. Despite my earlier intentions, I hadn’t cooked at all in the time I’ve been back home, because of a horrid, badly timed, ill-tempered stomach. However, it would have been a dead shame if I hadn’t at least cooked something for my family and friends. So, set in the garden, I envisioned a party of merry friends sipping on pretty glasses of Durbanville Hills Sauvignon Blanc and G&T’s while dishing in spoonsful of Bobotie (my mother’s coveted recipe) with fragrant rice. I wanted to do something traditionally Capetonian to celebrate being home. Of course, I might divulge that I believe Bobotie is a love-letter and one should only cook Bobotie for your father or your husband. We were secretly celebrating my father’s promotion at work.
Seeing as Bobotie, a Cape-Malay slightly sweet curried meat dish, was probably a slightly heavy option for summer, I paired it with a light Pavlova. Of course, I lined the meringue with Marscapone (yikes!) after I handbeat some honey into it, and then topped it with four packets of woolies raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. I’m sure Miss Pavlova would have been proud, given that she didn’t know about the tub of Marscapone cheese and that I secretly bought the meringue base ready-made at Pick&Pay.
I really enjoy cooking and baking and I get genuinely excited at the prospect of trying out new ideas and ingredients, but I must admit, I tend to neglect my guests completely. How does my mother manage to cook flawless (my eggplant was much saltier than the rest of the veggies, and the asparagus was MUCH too… crunchy) meals in three courses, while looking great and visiting with her guests? Its beyond me. I no longer believe that the secret is to have everything done and cleaned up before your guests arrive. I tend to be so excited about the food that I rush people through all three courses untill they finally escape after the ice-cream for fear that you will feed them more treats with the coffee (smart move;) ).
I did and re-did my make-up in a frenzy with my dad entertaining guests in the garden, and finally joined the party outside as I placed the piping hot Bobtie on the table, 1 hour later with my hair straightened in the wrong direction… The whole ordeal didn’t last very long. Pavlova ended the lunch with a generous bow, and God bless the few close friends who stuck it out through coffee and some sillyness.
This incident reminds me of Julie Julia , which I watched on the plane on my way home, and noticed that Meryl Streep’s Julia Child cooked up those feasts of hers in some impressive high heels, given that the film is historically accurate of course… How do these women do it? I had to soak my feet after my ambitious party, and I was wearing a pair of flat sandals. Not to mention the freak-out I had in the shop when suddenly I couldn’t recall how I was going to make the Pavlova. Was I disappointing generations of boere-tannies before me? I am finding myself associating more with Julie than Julia here. My mother is my own flawless Julia Child. There were so many moments I wished I could call my mother and ask her…when am I supposed to put in the coconut or how many kilos of beef do I need for eight people? Even better, if I had her in the kitchen to remind me to rinse the eggplant or chill the berries…
Of course I hadn’t cooked for that number of people in a LONG time, so I suppose some practice may make things run more perfectly next time.
However, I deliver this confession in a disgruntled fashion, as I would have liked to pretend that everything was indeed, perfect.
By the by, the Julie Julia blog exists! Read it here: What could happen!
Julia Child Picture sourced from: http://underthehollywoodsign.wordpress.com/2009/08/10/remembering-julia-child/