By Cullen Goldblatt
A half teaspoonful of cream of tartar to stop bleeding almost immediately.
So precisely and English wifely it begins. Cullen
tries to follow a line between a 19th century Cape kitchen (the scrubby veld a tincture
jar of cream of tartar) and the dry pale Baobab fruit growing in another
Africa and he can’t.
Margaret’s his mother’s recipe rests beside him
by the keyboard, begins:
1 cup boiling water, 1 and 1 half cups apricots soak, reserve water
It means Cape dried apricots small, dried-up, dark, tart.
This is his Margaret’s earnest recipe in a small red plastic covered notebook. Apricot
it is titled. He tells himself he needs to call his father to confirm it is Apricot Bread.
It is a lie Cullen knows but he is confessing. He is hungry wants apricot anything.
He will read his recipe books so intently he will trick himself out of
hunger. Cullen’s oldest book
is Cookery Book. It opens with a epigraph in faint penciled script:
Go little book and bring to all
Heaven in the garden
meat in the hall
South Africans in their graves offer Cullen tea too politely,
relentlessly click their bones in this his after-the-fact of their lives.
The Cookery Book is organized alphabetically. He opens to C finds Curry
(Cucumber) smaller type underneath (A Cape Dish).
‘H’ offers its own section Home Remedies such as the teaspoonful of cream of tartar promised
to stop a nosebleed. His mother’s nose bled in streams
but they were given liquid cocaine to stop it.
A Cape Hospital Remedy
The book’s spine is split so when it opens by itself it falls to Ovens, improvised.
The would-be-blank page opposite is filled with fountain pen scrawl,
top of the page headed Ingredients Griddle Scones.
Griddle Scones are flapjacks and flapjacks Cullen can tell you are American pancakes.
South African pancakes are crepes are what Cullen-adult sees in Cape Town restaurants called Dutch Pancakes
In the Jam section Cullen finds:
Take twelve pounds of water melon, six pounds of sugar, mash through mincing-machine; also three oranges. Boil up well, then add the sugar. Boil til clear.
A very good jam.
Cullen ignores The Politician’s Cookbook in his inventory
published by Faircape Books in 1982 subtitled:
conversations with 25 South African politicians
161 of their favorite recipes
Ignores for example Piet Koornhof Minister of Cooperation and Development
and National Party Member of Parliament for Primrose. In his photograph
our man is at his desk and an enormous wall map of southern Africa appears to grow
out of his balding head.
Ignores the caption and all its letters:
Piet and the forbidden fudge in his Pretoria office
Cullen’s parents lived in Newlands in 1969. It rains and mists in Newlands
because at the back of Table Mountain it catches all the green and moisture.
Later the government declared Newlands
a white only area, also Claremont and Wynberg and Green Point and Simonstown and
Cullen can fall asleep reading Traditional Cookery of the Cape Malays
(manuscript completed by Mrs H. Herxheimer 1949).
Each recipe is preceded by the name of the woman who contributed it.
Oxtrotter Met Blomkool (Oxtrotters with cauliflower)
Recipe: Mrs Slaman, 98 Kildare Rd., Newlands
Gesmoorde Brinjals (Braised egg-plant)
Choose slender brinjals and slice them rather thickly, but see that all the slices are more
or less of the same thickness, otherwise they will not cook evenly.
Do not peel the brinjals.
Brown some finely sliced onions in oil, fat, or butter and add the usual seasoning of green ginger, chillies and stamped garlic. When the onions are brown,
gently braise the brinjals until they are soft.
Chimurenga 7: KAAPSTAD! (and Jozi, The Night Moses Died) was first released in July of 2005. The issue is a collection of musings – in words, images and sounds – from beneath the processed skin of Cape Town, by Gabeba Baderoon, Sandile Dikeni, Julian Jonker, Jeremy Cronin, Suren Pillay, Rustum Kozain, Judy Kibinge, Abdulkadir Said, Zoe Wicomb, Desiree Lewis and many others.
To purchase, head to our online shop or get copies from your nearest dealer.