As I walk out of the produce aisle and approach the cashier, I greet her, to which she replies in the same language. I then overhear a couple with two children walk by carrying on a conversation in yet a different language. As the same cashier rolls my green and red peppers down the conveyor belt, she mutters something to the person bagging my groceries, in yet another language. This is just a simple weekday afternoon at the Pick and Pay market in the Panorama suburb. During this typical afternoon there are also school children in uniforms tagging along, short grey wool pants for the boys, grey wool jumpers for the girls. Each is donned with a maroon, navy or forest green blazer with a school crest embroidered next to the left lapel. Footwear seems to be optional. For some, there are small, tan, dirtied feet scampering around the bakery and dairy aisles, others have on white socks to the knees with black chunky Mary Janes on the girls and equally chunky, but a bit more scuffed, black Oxfords on the boys. They run up to their mothers or nannies and say “Lekker sweets assablieffff?” begging for a candy. A few miles down the street there is another community of people doing their weekday afternoon errands; although some of these people are walking much farther, not jumping into their little Renault Clio hatchbacks, and certainly not into their brand new Defenders. Some of these people are carrying their babies on there backs, escorting their school age children, bedecked in the same school uniforms described above, across busy highways and trekking back to their homes made of corrugated tin located in townships that seem to go on for miles and miles, as far as the eye can see. They may be singing a song in their fascinating language made up of clicks and tones or rushing to start the family’s dinner. Perhaps just ten to twenty miles away there is another suburb going about their weekday afternoon errands. They certainly aren’t walking. They are jumping into Range Rovers and BMWs, they are purchasing their pre-made gourmet meals, are most likely speaking English, and rushing home to have their swimming lessons in their lush backyard garden pools. Wow, what a spectrum. Here we have the aspects and diverse demographics that make up this rainbow nation. This nation has eleven official languages, this nation is comprised of 79% black citizens from hundreds of tribal and ethnic backgrounds, 10% white citizens who are from different European descendents dating back hundreds of years ago before the USA was even established, 9% Colored citizens who are a majority of a mixed race, 1% from Asian descendents and 1% Indian. And this is just the surface. This is a nation rebounding from years of minority rule and working together to harmonize in a desegregated society. It is a beautiful nation struggling with first world versus third world characteristics. Some of the citizens doubt the future of their great nation, some are optimistic. Regardless, this nation is physically stunning and has a very strong heartbeat. This nation is South Africa.
Don’t worry—no rabbits are harmed (or used) in the making of bunny chow. For the full story on South Africa’s favorite street food, check out page 44 of the premier issue of Afar. If your interest is piqued, follow this recipe for homemade bunny chow, then upload your pictures of the finished dish to Afar’s Facebook page!*
Adapted from Cook Sister!, Jeanne Horak-Druiff’s food blog. A native South African, Horak-Druiff favors lamb bunny chow.
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cinnamon stick
4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 medium onion, sliced thinly into rings
2–3 curry leaves
4 tsp Durban masala (if unavailable, use red curry powder)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
2 large tomatoes, chopped, or a 14-oz can chopped tomatoes
2 1/4 pounds lamb, cubed
3–4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tsp garam masala
Salt, to taste
1 or 2 crusty, square loaves of bread (small farmhouse loaves are best)
Fresh coriander leaves for garnish
1. Heat the oil and add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, onion, and curry leaves. Fry until the onion is golden brown in color.
2. Add the Durban masala (or curry powder), turmeric, ginger, garlic, and tomato. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mix resembles a puree.
3. Add the meat and cook for about 10 minutes. Then add the potatoes and about 1/4 cup of water. Lower the heat and simmer on low. Keep an eye on it to make sure the bottom of the pot does not burn.
4. When the meat is cooked through and the potatoes are tender (about 30 minutes), add the garam masala. Test for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Simmer for 10 minutes on low heat.
5. Halve the loaves and scoop out the centers (known in South Africa as the “virgins”), leaving the crusts to form bowls.
6. Spoon the curry into the half loaves and serve, garnished with coriander leaves. The virgin can be dipped into the curry and eaten as well.
*To upload your photos to our Facebook page, you must first become a fan of Afar. Also, please note that by posting your photos on our Facebook page, we reserve the right to repost the photos on our blog.
Photo by Maren Caruso.
From the Afar magazine blog.