The other day, I visited my friend in Gugs, and never having been to a predominantly black area before, I was really excited and didn’t know what to expect. Having grown up in a predominantly Cape Malay community, I never really had a truly authentic Kasi experience before. A friend encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone and absorb the culture of others without fear or hesitation.
We took a taxi from the taxi rank in Cape Town. As we got closer and closer to our destination, I stared out the window eagerly, the wind blowing the frizzy locks from my cheeks into the face of the guy next to me. My friend, Anele, refused to sit with me, stressing that both our bum perimeters would cause the other passengers to be squashed to oblivion.
The second I walked into her house in Gugulethu North, the strong aromatic scent of mngqusho hit me as her older sister eagerly stirred two searing pots, not even noticing us at the door.
Mngqusho is a traditional African dish of samp and beans, often also prepared by Cape Malay community and other South African cultures.
I couldn’t believe how quickly I devoured my plate. My mom had cooked samp and beans before, but her attempts were no match for the hearty, spice-infused meal I was ravaging.
This experience then led me to wonder how many people who grow up in areas and attend primary and high schools dominated by one race actually do step out of their comfort zones to taste the cuisine of others’ and absorb their unique cultures.
Anele had visited my home many times before and ate the food prepared by my mother. I was always really amused and surprised when she’d say that she’s never eaten a samoosa or a half-moon before and would always laugh at her as she fanned her face, mouthing the words ‘water please’ whilst eating her spicy curry and roti, (a roti is a round, pan-cake like Indian bread).
In my head I always thought that Gugulethu would be really dangerous for me, with people staring, poking fun at the ‘yellow bone’ that showed up, but the truth is, it was nothing like that. Every community, whether predominantly coloured, white or black has its crime. There are dangers everywhere, but we shouldn’t let that stop us from experiencing different avenues of South African life.
When I tasted a khota for the first time, I couldn’t help but say, with a mouth full of chips, ‘Mmmmmh, mnandi kakhulu’, which is an isiXhosa phrase translating to ‘that tastes delicious’. A khota is very similar to a gatsby, but instead of a long roll being stuffed with chips, viennas, salads and spice, an unsliced bread had its core removed and is stuffed with these yummy, unhealthy treats.
Thus far, I’ve eaten a smiley (sheep head), which I didn’t really enjoy as much, amagwina, also known as vetkoek and pap en vleis, which is eaten by all race groups right across Mzanzi.
Many of the dishes I mentioned are not exclusive to one cultural group, but have different variations across all communities in our beautiful land.
So fill up that skhaftin with some delicious treats to share with your friends at school or varsity, who knows, you may hear a story you were never told before.
Tell us: What do you think of Kauthar’s experience?