Low Caste Cuisine

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In 1999 while Sandile Dikeni was editor of Top of the Times, he asked me to write a cooking column that would be different from what the Cape Times audience would usually expect — this after I cooked pork chops for dinner (as in the first recipe).

Low Caste Cuisine generated far more reader interest than any of the columns on our leader page (including my own!) I had a lot of fun writing these, and that helped me realise that I was bored with writing about politics. That to some extent, helped fuel my decision to quit the Cape Times in October 1999.

Low Caste Cuisine had a short but glorious run of ten weeks. The recipes are timeless.

Sicilian legacy that's tasty: Forget Mafia and horse heads, try pork chops

23 July 1999

Think of pork chops and you’ll either curl up your nose in disgust because of cultural sensitivities or you will curl up your nose in disgust because pork chops are boring.

If you’re in the cultural sensitivity category, stay with me — we can discuss alternatives. If you’re in the “pork chops are boring” category, let me make you an offer you cannot refuse.

Get a kick out of a hot dish: A bout with Thai-style red curry

6 August 1999

Mao Tse-Tung — him of the long march to freedom and later of the cultural revolution — was born in China’s Hunan province. Hunan is famous for its extremely spicy food and tobacco, and the honourable chairman smoked heavily all his life… but I digress.

I’m not able to find Hunan cuisine anywhere on this continent which drives me to despair as Hunan food is as similar to Szechuan or Cantonese as mieliepap is to couscous.

Get a load of this bull: Sink your teeth into a cowboy's treat

13 August 1999

Boulder, Colorado is home to Red Rock Stadium where U2 recorded Under a Blood Red Sky. It’s also in the foothills of the Rockies, and you can drive up from Boulder on excellent freeways through picturesque mountain villages where you can sit down at a diner and order Rocky Mountain Oysters.

Have a beach of a time with mind over mussels

20 August 1999

The New England coast south of Martha’s Vineyard (near where John Fitzgerald Kennedy Junior lost his marbles) is salted and peppered with islands, many of them with pebble beaches. The presence of these pebbles has meant death for thousands of mussels which inhabit those Atlantic waters.

Why kingklip doesn't help you get a head

3 September 1999

Have you ever stopped to consider, as you stroll down the aisle past the fish counter looking at the hake, shad (or elf or whatever strange name you funny carpers call it), red roman, and others, that all of them look back at you — except for the kingklip?

None of your cheap stakes...

24 September 1999

So you’ve got a last minute guest for dinner and discover that your fridge is somewhat bare.

You fling yourself into the car, hit the local family supermarket, end up dashing up to the meat counter and the most attractive thing left on the shelf is a pack of thin steaks. They’re labelled “breakfast steaks” and that’s a warning to you that you serve them for dinner at your peril because they’re as tough as nails.

For the not-so traditional: Tin fish curry

22 October 1999

She stepped up to me at the last Cape Times Breakfast Club meeting and patted me on the arm. “When,” she asked, “are you going to do a traditional Indian curry?”

I paused in mid-sip, then looked at her with all seriousness. “Ma’am, I’m afraid you’ve made a mistake. You see, I’m Kanthan Pillay, the Managing Editor of the Cape Times, and I write a column on the leader page every Friday. You’re confusing me with Kanthan Pillay who writes a cooking column for Top of the Times every Friday.”

Blackening fishy French reputations...

29 October 1999

Laissez les bons temps rouler! Let the good times roll! Mrs Jones, I’ve got to tell you this tale, and it will go down well at your next dinner party.

About 47 years after Jan van Riebeeck pitched up here on the shores of the Mother City, brothers Pierre le Moyne and Jean-Baptist le Moyne de Bienville zipped up the Mississippi from the Gulf of Mexico.