The resources in the valley are tremendous and probably more varied and surprising than I’ve yet realised. This summer we’ve had apricots, quinces, passion fruit and mealies (corn on the cob) in abundance. Our neighbours have grown courgettes, pumpkins, rocket, sage, chives, coriander, eggplants and large orange persimmons. All I’ve managed to grow so far has been basil and a bush of fine-leaved origanum. The staples of the village are mostly bought in, a pity: carrots, potatoes, onions, chillies. Decent fresh garlic and root ginger are hard to come by. Also not available unless brought from Cape Town: bell peppers, broccoli, spring onions.
There is lamb from the local farmers, fresh chicken from local poultry farms, pork from a specialist butcher near Klapmuts. There are no local cheeses even though Caledon dairy is so close. No harvested olives around here, though May is olive month in the Boland. Most village cooks are fond of baking and there are endless tea parties with melkterts and spomge cakes. It is conventional cooking in the rural Afrikaner style. A little heavyhanded and predictable as far as I’m concerned but good in its own way. I favour stirfries and Thai/Vietnamese sauces or Mediterranean. Plenty of fresh vegetables with soil on the roots, herbs from the garden, pastas, basmati, risotto, paella. We’d eat more fish or seafood but that is hard to come by and expensive. What we don’t use enough is fruit – there is simply too much of it. Regular gluts of tomatoes, apples, hanepoot grapes, potatoes, brown onions.