Monday, March 1, 2010

Hanepoot grapes

It is late summer here in South Africa, and in the Cape that means one thing.

Hanepoot. (Hah-nuh-poo-wuht)

Time for ex-patriot South Africans to start weeping into their lattes or cups of strong English tea. And to reach for the bourbon/whisky/shiraz. Or whatever they drink in Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi...

Jantjie, kom huuuuuis tooooooe....

When the hanepoots start to turn light, golden-rust brown at the tips of each berry, you know that they are ready. The muscatty-honey taste is swelling inside their skins and the first grape crushed between the teeth crushes your heart just a little.

Properly Muscat d'Alexandrie, hanepoots make supermarket seedless grapes look as stiff, boring and without character as they have been bred to be.

They are best eaten straight off the bunch. Or crushed and lightly frozen, to be sucked like slush from the plastic bottle they were sold in. That was the way I drank them after sweaty, hot horse rides long ago in the Tokai forests. That farmstand is now a golf estate surrounded by electric fencing.

But the hanepoots taste the same.
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