Boerekos 'not of slave origin'

2004-04-22 10:17

Pretoria - Boerekos has its origins in Europe, and not with the slaves that came to the Cape many centuries ago.

Hettie Claassens, 70, has been studying the Cape food culture since 1986. She will receive her doctorate on Boerekos in South Africa from 1652 to 1806 at the University of Pretoria on Friday.

Claassens's research into the cuisine of slaves in the 17th century showed that perceptions that the slaves' had brought the the art of cooking with spices to prepare dishes such as bobotie to the Cape, were unfounded.

Where the slaves came from, people were too poor to afford spices, and they mainly used chillies, turmeric and ginger, she found.

"Slaves didn't bring any new dishes to the Cape," she said.

They only learnt in the Cape about cooking with spices and the typical dishes that were brought to the Cape according to cookbook authors.

Claassens found that the dishes that formed part of the food culture in the Cape in the twentieth century, known as Boerekos, were essentially European.

The main contributors were Dutch, German and French cooking, which in turn had its roots in Roman, Persian and Arabic cuisine.

Claassens said the Dutch wouldn't have bought spices from the East if they didn't have any knowledge about it.

She traced curried fish, as we know it today, back to Belgium where it was prepared as early as 1500.