Recently, I have been helping an upmarket safari company put together a guide of recommended restaurants in Cape Town and the Winelands. Unsurprisingly, trawling restaurant websites made me think about food. And it also made me appreciate how unponcy my world is. Some of these restaurants made me laugh at their pretentiousness. For example, one restaurant talks about how the simplicity in their food is deceptively complicated to achieve and then it has a full-page glossary at the end of their menu so diners can translate the names of their dishes and ingredients. This does not seem particularly simple. Additionally, I’m not convinced that simplicity is overly complicated. I peel a banana and I plonk it in a bowl. Noggs eats it. Not complicated. Although, if this was served in a posh restaurant it would have a name like ‘banane dans la bol’ and be sold for 30 dollars on a giant white porcelain plate with five drops of jus de naartije (simple translation: orange juice) scattered around it. A lot of the restaurants I wrote about boast innovative and exciting combinations of flavours. One posh restaurant served Gorgonzola ice cream avec posh spices. Gorgonzola ice cream seems like a weird combination, and not the kooky fun Gonzo from the Muppets type of weird, more like the creepy possible sexpest kind of weird .
So I’m glad we lead an unponcy life. I’m glad that when we go on safari, we mostly camp and self-drive, and put up our own tent and carry our own gear. I’m glad that we don’t go out and buy new designer clothes all the time, but instead we sew up the holes in the ones we have. Yes, having money is very nice so you don’t have to worry and you have a safety net for tough times and occassional splurges, and that is a state we are would certainly like to achieve. However, it’s nice to be happy with what you have, look forward to treats, have an environmental conscious, and be approachable. And the more I read about raising children, the more I think that simple is a good way to go. Chef Gordan Ramsey was in the media recently saying that when he flies with his family, he and his wife sit in first class and his kids fly coach because “they haven’t worked anywhere near hard enough to afford that”. That’s pretty extreme but I get where he’s coming from. Values and hard work are important.
Back to food, despite slagging off poncy restaurants, we do like good food. We are lucky to have a monthly farmer’s market nearby and lots of fresh local fruits, which we use to make smoothies every morning. Noggs is generally a good eater and we are so grateful since feeding can be a battle with toddlers. He will try almost everything, especially if it is on someone else’s plate. He loves meat, pasta, and fruits. Every evening we eat dinner on our porch as we watch the sunset. The colony of bats that lives in our house flies out in a big procession as we sit down. Sometimes animals like nyalas, zebras, and warthogs come near and we watch them graze. Noggs grabs a handful of his dinner and extends it out to them even though they are 20 metres away. He wants to share. Most of the time we listen to the birds and to Noggs listing all the animals that he thinks are sleeping (“Big giraffes sleeping, baby giraffes sleeping, zebras sleeping, owls sleeping…”). This is his favourite dinner time topic. We burn anti-mossie candles and when we are done eating Noggs loves blowing them out and watching the smoke rise. Then we wash up and pack lunches for tomorrow. It’s simple and nice.
Asian food is my favourite. Our trips to South Korea and Japan were incredible food wise. I would go back there in a heartbeat. Even the food from 7-11 in Japan was mind-blowing. I love all the seafood. I love sitting on the floor. I love green tea. I love almost every part of their diet but especially dumplings (gyoza in Japan and mandu in Korea). I could scoff those tasty little nuggets of joy all day long. Unfortunately, our town in the South African bushveld does not have many Asian options, either restaurant or ingredients wise. So when we go to Cape Town for the South African Wildlife Management Association conference in September, we will be seeking Japanese food and filling our luggage with ingredients so we can cook them at home.
So basically as I get older, I am realising that I like most things undeceptively simple, down to Earth. I drive a Landy and wear Birkenstocks. I’m not looking for fancy or showy. We have more than enough and I think living in the African bush helps us appreciate that. It’s a slower, softer, honest life. Giraffes eat leaves and work hard to get those leaves and they seem pretty content. I imagine that people often feel hungry when they leave posh restaurants.