Eating the Forbidden Fruit

The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.

-Che Guevara

After years of eating bad apples in Grahamstown I was ready to give up on the fruit entirely. But all this changed when I bit into a blood red ‘Crunchy Munchie apple’ from Woolworths. I finally realized why this particular fruit was forbidden in paradise.

This simple looking fruit can, when perfectly grown, be sinfully delightful and tempting. Given its luscious loveliness I was amazed that it was so favoured by the utilitarian aesthete Benjamin Franklin. The perfect apple will be crisp to the bite with just enough sweet juice escaping into your mouth. If gold had a taste it would taste like a perfect apple.

In recent years the apple has become fairly pedestrian as far as food goes. With all the Banting and anti-oxidant pundits out there, the apple a day, has been replaced with the punnet of berries, all too small containers of pomegranates, and dreary packets of dried Goji berries. But the apple was not always so common, and has, for most of our history been revered as sacred. Originating in the mountains of Kazakhstan, Alexander the Great brought the apple to Greece in 328 BCE. The Greeks then introduced it to North Africa. Apples became popular wherever they were introduced. The apple was not only favoured for its taste and dietary benefits but also became enmeshed in local stories, mythologies and legends.

The tree of life in the Garden of Hesperides held the fabled golden apples. Mythical nymphs were strongly associated with this magical garden situated in the Atlas Mountains of North Africa. The Garden of Hesperides is probably the basis for the biblical Garden of Eden. While the apple doesn’t actually appear in Genesis it has popularly been interpreted as the fruit that led to the fall of man from paradise.

While Adam became mortal after eating an apple, the Norse pantheon of gods achieved immortality after eating golden apples harvested by the goddess Iðunn.

In One Thousand and One Nights, complied sometime between the 8th and 13th century between present-day India and Persia, the humble apple was imbued with healing powers. In this collection of tales Prince Ahmed travels to Samarkand, the oldest city in central Asia, to buy fragrant apples that could cure any disease if they were smelled by the sick.

On the other side of the world, almost 100 years later, the apple became a symbol of liberation in Switzerland. According to legend William Tell saved his son’s life by shooting an apple off his head. In the legend this act, and Tell’s bravery, was the spark needed to begin the rebellion that led to the formation of the Swiss Confederation.

 The apple has also been part of the fairytales told to children. In one of the most famous fairytales, Snow White, the wicked stepmother relied on the ordinariness of the apple to deceive Snow White into eating poison. The apple also makes its way into our scientific lore and was tied to notions of respect and education in the new world. The apple featured strongly in Newton’s recollection to his first biographer William Stukeley about his discovery of gravity. According to Stukeley Newton said:

“After dinner, the weather being warm, we went into the garden and drank thea, under the shade of some apple trees…he told me, he was just in the same situation, as when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind. It was occasion’d by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood. Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground, thought he to himself…”

 The tradition of offering teachers apples as presents stems from the 16th century in northern Europe and the 18th century in the United States. During these periods in history teachers were badly paid so parents would compensate the teachers with additional food to help them out. Given the popularity of the apple teachers would often receive baskets full of the fruit. The popularity of the apple was not lost on Benjamin Franklin the famous polymath, printer and politician with his aphorisms. ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’

So the next time you bite into this ordinary everyday fruit remember that, for millennia, this humble fruit has been entwined with our greatest mythical and sacred stories

If you are inclined to try some delicious apples and cook with them. You would do well to make this fabulous  and easy classic French Dessert-Tarte Tartin. See here for an excellent recipe by Jamie Oliver.


Sisters Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin developed this accidental pudding in 1880. The sisters owned the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron about 160 kilometres from Paris. The story goes that the tart developed via a felicitous mistake when Stéphanie forgot the apples on the stovetop in the caramel.






A Special Sandwich Review


The Special is a fantastic Durban delight that is available for R 8 at Kara Nichas a local South African vegetarian chainstore. The food is healthy, cheap and excellent.

Here is a delicious piece of writing for you to dip into. It is written by the exfeptionally talented Pravasan Pillay

“I was in my hometown of Durban recently, and while there I was determined to visit all my regular food haunts. Kara Nichha’s, the vegetarian takeaway chain, was high on my to-do list, and I made sure I popped over to their relatively new location in Tranquil Street, Chatsworth, a few times during my stay.” Continue Reading

A Recreation of my Favourite Fictitious Meal: Peter Clemenza’s Tomato Sauce


Peter Clemenza instructing Michael Corleone on how to make Tomato Sauce

Today the wonderful Nina Butler, tagged me into a fantastic read on Facebook on the recreation of fictitious dishes. I loved the article so much I decided to experiment with a dish from one of my favourite novels, that is filled with wonderful meals, The Godfather.

A few months back I wrote an article titled Guns and Veal: Food in Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather,” which examined the role food played in the novel and it also has the recipe of the dish I cooked. I follow the recipe exactly and it always makes a delicious sauce.


Here is my recreation of the fictitious meal




The heat that is Vindaloo….

Stacy: Our relationship is like an addiction. It’s… like…
Dr. House: Really good drugs?
Stacy: No, it’s like… Vindaloo curry.

Curry joints are popular places to eat across the English speaking world, from New York to Nairobi, Sydney to Sheffield and from Durban to Dublin. And Vindaloo is often the most popular dish on the menu. In fact, the Vindaloo has become so popular, it has entered into popular culture in a big way. From being mentioned in the 1978 song ‘I Just Want To Have Something To Do’ by punk rock band, The Ramones, to becoming metaphors for relationships in the witty dialogue of House M.D. Part of the popularity of the Vindaloo is due to the fiery heat of the dish. In the Oxford dictionary the Vindaloo is described as a ‘very hot and spicy curry.’ Despite the Vindaloo’s spicy reputation, the traditional recipe of the Vindaloo is not defined by its heat but rather by its distinctly sour and garlicky flavours.

The Vindaloo is a Goan dish that is a product of Portuguese colonialism and the culture of the south eastern tip of South Asia. Vindaloo derives from the Portuguese dish ‘carne de vinha d’alhos,’ and the traditional version of this dish combines a type of meat, usually pork, with wine and garlic. The Goan version replaces red wine vinegar with palm vinegar and adds Kashmiri chilli powder. Marinating the meat overnight intensifies the tangy flavour of the dish and this works well with the sweet meat of pork. However, one could cook the dish with any meat and  Indian restaurants around the world will usually serve chicken or lamb Vindaloo instead of pork.

Here is my version of pork Vindaloo. While the traditional version is not famed for its spiciness, it has become popularly accepted as a spicy dish and I make mine very very spicy.

I bought pork chops and cut it up into cubes, removing all the fat.
I then marinated the meat in white vinegar, 2 tablespoons of chilli powder a tablespoon of crushed fresh ginger and 3 tablespoons of crushed garlic. I marinate the dish for an hour overnight if I have time.
I caramelise two onions and drain off the excess oil.
Heat a tablespoon of sunflower oil in a deep pan.
Add the marinated meat. Cook for an hour, add water as needed so that the meat does not catch.
After an hour add the onions.
Cook until meat is tender and then add a tablespoon of yoghurt.
Thereafter add coriander and serve with roti or rice.



Things I love : olive oil, bread and raging red chillies

Here is a fantastic little afternoon snack…

Add some sun dried tomatoes or anchovies and salami for variety.

De Rustica Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a locally produced, award winning, olive oil that is available at Pick ‘n Pay. It come in 500ml bottles and 1 to 5 litre tins. It is very reasonably priced and absolutely delicious.

The artisanal bread is from our local store called Fusion.

I add chillies to everything I eat, well almost everything… However sometimes I do not have fresh chillies in my fridge and these dried red chillies work equally well. I cut them with a scissor over sandwiches, salads, pasta, etc. It also makes an excellent curry paste. Rehydrate chillies in water, then grind one or two with equal parts ginger and garlic in a pestle and mortar.


A turn to healthy eating


Ok so we have decided to eat much more veggies at home.

So there will be lots more vegetables featured.

I was given this fantastic recipe by a friend of mine, Ulandi. I find that, if I chop the veggies and keep them in a tupperware in the fridge it makes it s very quick dish to prepare.


Once the veggies are prepped I can make the wraps in a matter of minutes when needed.The jungle peanut and sesame sauce really transforms the dish into a parcel of flavour.

You can find the recipe on this awesome website:

Julia Child’s Potage Parmentier

So the last two days in Grahamstown have been fairly grey and rainy.


And this time I am not complaining. After the heatwave of the last few days a taste of autumn was very welcome.

Given the brief respite from the heat I decided to make the quick, easy and very warming dish of Potage Parmentier. I used Julia Child’s deceptively simple recipe of potato, leeks, butter, cream and water. It is no surprise that the this Potage is simple to cook given its medieval roots. It originated in the pots of Northern French cooks and by the eleventh century it became a stable across Europe.

I always cook this dish on cold grey days further fuelling my imaginings of cold grey medieval Europe. In my historical imagination medieval Europe, England specifically, wrongly or rightly is always cold and grey.

Enough of my musings… The reason why Pottages are simple to cook was because medieval cooks cooked over an open hearth and poorer cooks usually had one large cauldron to cook in. Cauldrons very much resemble the South African Potjie, and in a similar manner all ingredients would be put into a pot of water and cooked for hours. There was always, well, during halcyon times at any rate, a cauldron of pottage in the medieval kitchen, which would, at times, also contain meat. When the harvests were meagre and taxes raised the pottage would usually be slim on vegetables, more watery and even slimmer on meat.

Nowadays the same cooking principle applies but we can enrich our pottage with heaps more butter and cream then medieval European peasants. I suspect that their version might have been the healthier option, and if you feel like it I  don’t see why you cannot, especially if you have organic garden vegetables, boil and mash the vegetables to create a more medieval and probably healthier version of the dish. This way you just get to enjoy the taste of the vegetables. I do, however, love butter and cream!

Here is Julia Child’s recipe

3 to 4 potatoes, sliced or diced

3 cups sliced leeks


4 tablespoons fresh cream

2 or 3 tablespoons soft butter

and chopped parsley

Place potatoes, leeks, in water and put on a slow boil until all vegetables are tender

When boiling the dish will look pretty unattractive and there was no way short of hiring professional photographers that I could get it look like anything but a pot of medieval pottage.


Once vegetables are cook blend until smooth, creamy and still fairly thick. Return to the heat add the tablespoons of butter and remove from the heat.

When serving add the fresh cream and parsley. Eat and be warm!