In our last few hours in South Africa, I found myself standing at the hob cooking brunch for our crew of well-wishers. I used up the leftover frozen berries and filled the frying pan with batter for drop scones (pancakes for the Americans/flapjacks for South Africans). I wondered if it was crazy, or some sort of denial that I continued cooking even as the bags were loaded into the car. But as I chatted, and swapped stories and trinkets with friends, it felt like the right place to be.
Drop scones remind me of watching TV with my brother after school, my mum bringing them through fresh and buttered. They remind me of brunch and deep chat with friends in our bright 10th floor flat, our first married home. And of Saturday mornings in Soshanguve, me tiptoeing to flip the pancakes on our tiny elevated hob. They are a comfort food, but it’s not the pancakes that taste of home. It’s the warmth from being surrounded by people I care about and sharing food together. That’s where I feel at home in the world.
Now don’t hear me saying that the culinary highlight of my time in South Africa was Scottish Pancakes! I loved ‘Sunday course’, or ‘five colours’ as the celebratory meal was called. Rich beef stew, tangy beetroot salad, creamed spinach, buttery smooth pumpkin, rice or pap and chakalaka. Chakalaka was the part that I was tutored in and confident to help out with: chopped onion, grated carrot and finely diced green pepper fried up with some spices and then mixed with baked beans. It’s surprisingly delicious, and I hope I’ll make it in years to come when I’m craving a taste of Sosh.
Now we’re back in Glasgow, and as much as I’ve embraced the pizza crunch (deep-fried, battered pizza) I still want to taste the world. And it’s not just the flavour that I desire, but the friendships. The sharing of cultures, traditions and meals. In our two months in Glasgow, I’ve already met women from far across the globe who have welcomed me back to my homeland. I may not be physically globe-trotting in this season, however I look forward to learning from these women and savouring together our tastes of home.
“All cultures teem with creativity, on display both via inconceivable monuments and in the flawless blend of two spices.” (Tsh Oxenreider – At Home in the World)
– This post was inspired by Tsh Oxenreider’s new book ‘At Home in the World’ in which she documents her family’s nine month venture around the world. She provides many a travel tale and inspiration that our ‘inner adventurers’ do not need to retire in days of parental and other responsibility. I especially enjoyed her reflections on where we find ‘home’, as Tsh says:
“Am I at home in the world? Yes. Its waters and forests, megacities and villages, bus lines and bicycles make it feasible to find a reasonable escapade anywhere. When I travel, I’m at home in the world, so long as I’m with the people I love most.
But I still need a home in the world. I’ll backpack with gusto until my back gives out, but at the end of the day, I need to hang up that backpack in a closet, check my mail, and sip a drink with my next-door neighbour, watching the sun set from the backyard.”