Some more, please: A taste of past pleasures

2010-10-13 10:38

This weekend I fleeting tasted the flavours of my youth again amid an onslaught of memories. Scary really when I realised that the youth that came flooding back was 20 years old.

My best friend and I ditched our toddlers with a dad each and flew back in time. Back to a German farming town in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands no one has heard of where we had had the time of our lives.

As we couldn’t possibly face the people we hadn’t seen for two decades on an empty stomach, we pulled into the nearest promising eatery. What a find!

The Crafty Duck is a ramshackle, rustic spot perched on the evocatively named Whispers Hill just outside Pietermaritzburg.

We were delighted to find a table on the higgledy-piggledy wooden deck where we could watch a trio of grazing llamas in the paddock out front, while a tortoise struggled with his laps to one side and the parrots squawked companionably.

But best of all was the pukka home-made sauerkraut that came with my crispy, deliciously salty and creamy cheese griller sausage. Sharp with a sweet finish, that pickled cabbage was the most wonderful reminder of all there is to celebrate about German cuisine.

It was reinforced by the delicious cake made by a local baker as we sipped tea and reminisced at our alma mater. But as we headed for the boarding house other, less enticing food memories rushed in.

No one had forgotten the stomach-churning smell of Mrs Hall’s Monday night stew (cook’s night off), chunks of cheap meat – more gristle than flesh – and watery gravy that always, somehow ended up over your salad.

In our first year of school it was inedible, but by matric either she’d improved with practice or our palates had conceded defeat and we’d get a few spoonfuls down.

We remembered the home-made buns on Thursdays, the disgusting pink viennas in hotdog rolls on Sundays and the delicious creamed corn we had on toast for breakfast.

Food is a powerful memory aid and we wolfed down a satisfying fry-up the next morning in a desperate attempt to ward off the hangovers our 18-year-old selves would have laughed off. As we tucked into our hostess’s home-made muffins and bread and freshly fried eggs we made a new memory to look back on in another 20 years.

» The Crafty Duck is part of The Amble.  Call: 033 390 1334/6.

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