“I only just started getting into eating spices and curries recently, I never ate it before. Which made things interesting when I was a bit younger and I went to India with my dad and my sister.
We were in the south in this tiny little town where there is nothing to do except look at water buffalo and go to the underwear market but I didn’t even get to do either. My dad imports fabric so he was there to meet cotton people, and they were so worried about our safety – because apparently there was this gang in this small town – we weren’t allowed to go anywhere by ourselves. They drove us to American restaurants the whole time. All my dad and my sister wanted was to eat Indian food but they would only take us to pizza places and fried chicken places. I was fine with this.
But then one day we got away from everyone and we got to do our own thing. We went to a restaurant on a little island for lunch and my dad and sister got curries. There was nothing I wanted so I just said I would have some bread. They had naan bread on the menu and I thought I’m could totally be cool with that.
But this old man was so sweet, instead of bringing me naan bread he actually made me a little bread and butter sandwich out of white bread cut in little triangles and he even cut the crusts off. But when it got to me there were black fingerprints on the white bread because everything was so dirty. He was so well meaning but he had really dirty hands and little black marks were all over the white bread.
I didn’t want to be rude, I was already being difficult not eating their food – which I acknowledge – so I decided that I had to eat this bread. So I tore around the fingerprints and then I actually ate the white bread – that wasn’t black – and then I took the rest and scrunched it up really small and put it in my pocket so he didn’t know I didn’t eat it.”
“When I was growing up I loved dinosaurs so very much, even before Jurassic Park was a thing. And I remember one day my grandmother told me that a dinosaur man had moved up the road from her. It turns out that the guy was an archeologist and indeed had dinosaur eggs and bones in his house. But that was not even the most interesting thing about him.
He was an agoraphobic astronomer who had been a spy during the border war and was trained by Russians to do fantastical and terrible things. He grew up in a hotel as a kid where he trained as a chef and what’s more he was an organic farmer before organic farming was a thing. To the point that he even taught Margaret Roberts a thing or two.
Anyway, as a kid my mother would throw me the most ridiculous kids’ parties. And my favourite party by far was the medieval themed birthday on this guy’s farm where he was King Richard. We could be knighted throughout the day when we completed quests (think Lady Lilly of the Onion) all the while in search for the Holy Grail that he had hidden in the scarecrow in his organic vegetable patch.
It all culminated in a medieval feast where no manners or pieces of cutlery were allowed. You should have seen these kids faces when they were coerced to be as rude as they liked and eat with their fingers with wild abandon. Naturally it all ended in a massive food fight, just like in the movies, hand sized cream pies in faces et al. He is a very big reason why I love food – and eating with my fingers – to this day.”
For more stories like this you can get your hands on a copy of Put A Egg On It this Sunday at the Johannesburg Visa Street Food Festival happening at the common ground in Maboneng from 10am to 4pm.