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June 7, 2006

Food for the eyes

wild flowers 05 06 001.jpg This little gem delights our eyes and mouths every winter. The tiny sorrel flower (oxalis purpurea) and its vivid-green, clover-like leaves are strewn through our renosterbush hills like hundreds and thousands, the sugared and brightly coloured mini-marbles that my mother used to adorn the icing of the cakes she made for our birthdays.
The sorrel’s arrival also signals a winter change in the dinner menu.
At least since 1670, sorrel has been an important ingredient in traditional Cape cooking.
Some of most influential immigrants were forcibly delivered to the Cape from what is now Indonesia by their Dutch rulers, mostly between 1670 and 1795.
They brought many talents and skills to their new home. Chief among these were the creation of the Cape-Dutch gabled architecture and Cape Malay cooking.
Most of the European vegetables did not grow in winter. The Cape Malay cooks looked to the indigenous bush for inspiration for warm meals for cold nights.
To the mutton from the fat-tailed sheep they added waterblommetjies (water flower buds) that they found in slow running streams. To add a salty, spicy, acid zest to the stew, they added sliced sorrel leaves and tubers from the sorrel roots.
Waterblommetjie bredie is together with bobotie one of the 2 great dishes of Cape cooking. Famous for over 300 years.

Posted by graham knox at June 7, 2006 7:46 PM

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