Friday, January 13, 2012
Johan van Zyl asked me the other day what food I miss from South Africa. Surprisingly, I could not come up with a very long list. But this may have less to do with what I love when I am here, and the missing, than it has to do with an unconscious immersion in wherever I am at a given moment. So yes, I miss braaivleis and boerewors, I miss mountains and fynbos. I miss lamb. I miss the moist brown bread. But what I do, really, miss, is fruit.
Yet what can beat a yellow freestone peach dripping with bloodwarm juice in a Brooklyn July, you might ask? Or concord grapes bursting from their skins in September at union Square? Not much. I know.
What I miss are bowlsful of litchis or grenadilllas (passion fruit) that are ubiquitous in season and affordable. I miss mountains of small, perfumed, golden pineapples, luscious pink pawpaws (papaya), baskets of ripe prickly pears (cactus pears), musky, late summer hanepoot grapes.
I love fruit, and always find myself searching for some after dinner. If I ever did have a restaurant - highly unlikely: I am under no illusions as to the lifestyle it would force upon someone who is perhaps naturally indolent; but if I did, fruit would be on the dessert menu. It would arrive on pretty plate, a perfect plum, a ripe peach, a tiny, sweet pineapple, or bowl of grenadillas, scenting the whole room. A sharp knife, perhaps a spoon, and a fresh napkin.