Eating to Live

Friday, 18 July 2014, in McGregor dawned:  a cold, blustery morning.  It was also the first Mandela Day since his death in December 2013;  he would have been 95.  Later that day I was  heading down to our local community service centre (aka the police station) to join a sandwich drive.

This, juxtaposed with my my rant, the previous evening, about dieting fads and food foibles, got me thinking about how privileged I am, to be able not just to have the pleasure of cooking, but of food, in all its glory, when there are people, literally down the road, who do eat to live – when they can.

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For the last two years, a young McGregorite has organised this initiative.  This must have taken Mira much more than just the 67 minutes she asked of us to give, to organise.



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So, a bunch of us, of all colours and creeds, from all walks of life, gathered at around 11h00, to make sandwiches.

By about 11h45, this happy band of volunteers had made this huge mound of sandwiches to go with the soup that came from Lord’s Guest Lodge.


I didn’t just join the sandwich drive, I also joined the convoy to deliver the sandwiches and soup.  First, to the Breede Centre which runs a holiday programme of for local children, then on to the informal settlement and the poorest parts of our village.



The sandwiches and hot soup, along with the treats made a difference – at least for a short while.


For me, there was also a weird moment.  There was a time that it would have been inconceivable that I would set foot in a police station to be part of a community initiative:  the police represented the oppressors and meted out their orders.  These orders were usually punitive and harsh;  they certainly did not include feeding people in informal settlements.

Much remains to be done in our country and village of poor and plenty, but that I, and my fellow sandwich-makers were able to comfortably join this initiative, is a consequence of Nelson Mandela who gave 67 years of selfless service.  Halala, Tata.

Sensational sandwiches

A sandwich is a sandwich, is a sandwich – or is it?

Since mid-January, I have forsworn bread and potatoes.  I thought that it would be difficult, but it hasn’t been.  I think that the main reason for this is that I made a decision that this was a choice rather than a rule.  It was also my choice and no-one else’s.  Why do I make this point?  Well, I figured that if I allowed it to govern every meal I cooked, particularly over the weekend, I’d make everyone miserable.  The upshot is that it’s the 5:2 approach – as far as possible….

We have a wonderful pop-up market in McGregor.  You don’t always know what or who will be at the market.  That means that you can’t be guaranteed bread, but when there is bread, it’s beautiful, often really healthy.  There are a few bread makers in the village.  One is Hester, who sadly doesn’t bake bread as often as she used to.  Her potato Ciabatta are fantastic, wood-fired chunks of tasty bread.  In addition to being great when fresh, they also make the most fantastic crostini that you can top with almost anything to make a really easy, sexy sarmie.  To make crostini, heat the oven to about 200 Celsius and lightly brush each slice on both sides, place on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes.

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A spread of pesto, with tomato, cheeses, gherkins, pickled bell peppers and fresh herbs, in different combinations make a feast!

Corlie is another baker in the village.  She makes a few lovely breads, and one we are particularly fond of, is a part rye bread.  She makes it with molasses which gives it a lovely soft, spongy texture with a delicious malty flavour.  I made this sarmie – unplanned – with what I had in the fridge:

On a slice of thin-ish bread, layer slivers of Camembert or brie, a warm, quick-fried slice of brinjal (warm is important – it begins to melt the cheese, and brings out its flavour), and top with a slice of fresh tomato and salt and pepper.  Now spread a generous dollop of pesto over the second slice of bread and put the lid on your sandwich!100_2881These (even if I say so, myself) sensational sarmies are favourite Saturday or Sunday afternoon late lunches for us – in the garden – with a glass of wine from our lovely valley!