Of the few true culinary delights that originated outside the borders of France, chicken peri-peri has to be one. This dish also proves that colonisation was essential in bringing culinary civilisation to the Dark Continent, peri-peri being the result of some enthusiastic domination of the Mozambicans by our Portuguese amigos.
Even if the battle-reluctant Portuguese’s period of colonisation lasted shorter than it takes to marinade an average peri-peri chook.
Well-known Afrikaans novelist and journalist Jaco Kirsten recently launched a runaway success of a website, meneer.tv, which reports on bar-fighting skills, hot chicks and hang-over cures, as well as a number of less profound topics. According to Jaco, also a magazine editor and media expert, internet posts in the form of naming a “list of” attracts three times more “hits” than chunks of dense prose.
A grilled Portuguese sardine is one of life’s great fishy pleasures. In South Africa one finds these critters in the freezer, each fish having been individually quick-frozen after being caught in the Atlantic off Portugal to ensure firm-fleshed and flavoursome eating.
Last week I hauled a few packs to De Wetshof for the annual sardine braai that Portuguese national Joaquim Sa and moi host for the sardine-loving De Wet family. Our sardines were packaged under the Breco brand and having been purchased at Porra-owned Fish4Africa in Woodstock, I presumed another splendid culinary evening was in store. The perfect sardines would be washed down with vinho verde while Joaquim entertained us with jokes about Portuguese nuns before bursting into tear-inducing bouts of fado song.
The Portuguese waiter looked at us, nervously. “Sorry but we have run out of sardines,” he said in an accent that confirmed his three-year stint working in North London. We sat back and looked at the table. It was strewn with plates, chunks of bread and half-drunk wine glasses. Piles of sardine bones, stripped of their oily cream-coloured flesh, shimmered in the early afternoon sunlight streaming through the window.