Last Day of Class!

Today was the last day of class, so my six Overcoming Apartheid Junior Seminar students enjoyed a South African feast! World Market provisioned us with Ceres litchi juice and Mrs. Ball’s chutney.

The bobotie on the way into the oven
The bobotie on the way into the oven

Bobotie is certainly one of the Cape”s best known dishes with a bit of a controversy around it. Is it of Cape  Malay descent? Created by Dutch settlers and infused with Eastern spices from their trade in the Dutch East Indies? Sarah Emily Duff sheds some light:

One of the ironies of boerekos [farmers’ food, comfort food] is that so much of it is derived from the cooking of the slaves who were transported to the Cape from southeast Asia during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries. The sambalsatchars, and chutneys of Afrikaner cooking are a particularly obvious debt to the food traditions imported to South Africa from present-day Indonesia and Malaysia.

Although Leipoldt, an unusually thoughtful nationalist, acknowledge that many of the recipes he found were cooked and invented by ‘Malay’ women – a term which he used to describe the largely Muslim and Afrikaans-speaking descendants of slaves who lived in the Cape –their presence gradually disappeared in other, later boerekos recipe books.

There is no neat boundary between Afrikaner cuisine and what most South Africans dub ‘Cape Malay’ cooking: there are recipes for bredie (mutton stew), bobotie, and sosaties (kebabs) in both boerekos and Malay recipe books. But in order to use food to construct distinct, discrete national or group identities, the differences between these two cuisines had to be emphasised over their similarities.

Sarah Emily Duff, in “National Kitchens

I always forget to take “during” photos, but we’ll use this “after” shot to suggest that the bobotie was enjoyed by all!

Bobotie aftermath
Bobotie aftermath

Now they’re off to finish their research papers with full stomachs.


Published by jillekelly

Assistant Professor of African/South African History at Southern Methodist University, Graduate of Michigan State University, Lover of all things Pittsburgh & Detroit

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: