South Africa 2015 - On The Fly Cooking in the Drakensbergs
When one of my college buddies, Helen, and her husband, Dan, moved to South Africa in 2014 (her husband was transferred there by a large US company), several other college friends wanted to pay them a visit. Not everyone was able to go once the dates and times were set. However, three were left standing ready and willing to go. Laura from Michigan, Jodie living in Amsterdam at that time, and me on the East Coast. Laura and I coordinated our trip and met in Atlanta to fly to Johannesburg, SA. Going that far, we went for two weeks which left plenty of room to visit a lot of places throughout South Africa. Our fun included a Safari, hiking in the Drakensbergs, and visiting Cape Town as well the wine country of Stellenbosch and Franschhoeck. It was a wonderful trip with lots of memories made with smart, funny and compassionate women (and two husbands for some parts of the trip).
Helen planned the entire trip. She utilized the fact she was living in SA to pay rates and travel expenses under Rand instead of USD. Smart girl she is! Since we are all very active, a trip to hike in the Drakensbergs Mountains (declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000) was high on our list. Helen secured accommodations in a cabin there, and after our Safari in northern SA, we headed southeast near the Lesotho border. The mountain range was spectacular! They are kind of like the Rockies of Colorado in the states.
On our way down, we stopped at a grocery store to buy our provisions for several days. We never thought about purchasing salt/pepper/spices or any type of butter, oil or spray for cooking purposes. But ... we had plenty of wine! After one long and grueling hiking day we came back to our cabin hot, sweaty, sore and hungry as bears. Jodie volunteered to cook that night. For the four of us, everything was quite seamless in KP duty. One made a salad, another set the table and poured wine in four glasses and the last gal would clean up and wash the dishes.
Once Jodie started making the chicken in the frying pan she realized we did not have any oil/butter etc to help with flavor or stickiness on the old beat up pan. On the spot she began frying the chicken very slowly so that it would release some fat. And here is where she manufactured sunshine…in cooking. She opened another bottle of wine to assist her in cooking the chicken. It served a dual purpose. It brought an unbelievable and unexpected flavor to the chicken, and nothing ended up sticking to the pan.
Since we were in baboon country, these cabins were empty of any food supplies. Not even a packet of salt was found in any drawer or way back in a cabinet. Nope, those baboons can open doors and windows and can do a lot of damage in the cabin if no one is occupying them. They would even destroy cleaning supplies, and of course we did not have, or buy, proper cleaning supplies either. I don’t think anyone of us got the memo about the baboons and their crazy behavior. We used soap from our toiletry bags for our personal use, as well as all the cooking clean up. Our cabin did provide kitchen towels and bed linens, so that helped. Apparently, baboons don’t mess with towels—but they do jump on the beds we heard!
Necessity is the mother of invention - a good story for this Mother’s Day Weekend!
BSoleille! I'm shouting a huge Happy Birthday to Jodie's 60th today!