Soweto soul food
March 29 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Soweto soul food | Friday, March 30, 2001

Friday, March 30, 2001

Soweto soul food

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor I shouldn't have eaten the chakalaka. I firmly believe that one of the best ways to get a taste of a new culture is to literally get a taste of the culture.

But I shouldn't have eaten the chakalaka.

My culinary adventures in South Africa began innocently enough with spicy beef sausage for breakfast, biltdong (similar to beef jerky) for snacks and seafood for lunch. The calamari was excellent, as were two local varieties of fish, kingklip and hake.

The real adventure began when Roy A. Smith took me to Wandie's Place, a converted home in one of the better sections of Soweto, South Africa's largest black township.

The mealie pop (a local staple like finely ground and overcooked grits) was good, though I didn't care for the sour variety, which was purple and tasted like poi. A hominy-like dish was also good, as was the mashed pumpkin and the tomato-onion gravy.

When I dove into a dark and hearty stew called mala mogodu, I noticed a familiar smell, but decided to eat first and ask questions later. It turned out to be made of the stomach, intestines and organ meats of a cow. It was not my favorite dish.

But I would eat mala mogodu 1,000 times before I try chakalaka again.

I thought it would be a refreshing change from the tripe stew. In the dimly lit room, it appeared to be a cold salad of tomatoes, green beans and sliced okra. After my first (and only bite), my sinuses exploded, my hair went curly and my hearing aid began to melt.

What I had assumed to be sliced okra was actually lots of potent green chile peppers. And, what I thought to be a tomato base included red chiles. My taste buds will never be quite the same.

If there is food to be had in hell, it will probably taste like chakalaka - and that's all I need to know to seek a better destination.

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3/29/2001 11:00:00 PM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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