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Sometimes a Stew Makes All the Difference

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May 15, 2016 / African / By
Katie Schenk

I was thinking about it earlier today… food plays a major role in my life. I’m not talking about the human need to eat. I’m not even pretending that I spend all day slaving over a hot stove to make a meal out of the scraps left in my pantry. But, preparing and eating food is very important to me.

For a start, I think it’s important to know that my favourite holiday is Thanksgiving. Believe me, that has nothing to do with patriotism or American imperialism; it’s because Thanksgiving is a feast.  I realise that some cultures have a lot of feast days, but I don’t get a lot of those, so I put all my efforts into a single day in November.

There are other meals that I remember, though I’ve never really shared them with anyone. Several years ago I had breakfast around the corner from my hotel room in Paddington in London. It was a proper English breakfast and for some reason, I ordered it with tea instead of coffee. I have no idea where that café is, but I think of it every time I make a cup of tea.

Some meals stick because of the people, some stay around in my memory because of the food, and others because I put so much into preparation. I remember when freezer cooking transformed my life, and I stayed up late one night preparing casseroles when the kids were young, and I was still married. True, I probably remember that night because I managed to get chili pepper all over my hands and the burning was awful. Still, I wrapped my kitchen preparations while watching The Magdalene Sisters. The movie or the Chicken Ya-Ya that I was making that night will send me back to that kitchen, that moment.

I can recall so many conversations about dinner, the way the kitchen at the John Knox Centre smells when the chef makes Raclette, and I have a list of restaurants to try. When I travel or know I am going out for the night, the first thing I do is check the restaurants and the menus. If I buy magazines, it’s because of the recipes - and some of my most special gifts have been cookbooks.

Sometimes, it’s important to remind myself that not everyone thinks about food as much as I do. Normally, I need to do that when I don’t feel like cooking – and no one else does either.

So imagine my surprise when my partner brought home a pack of stew meat and vegetables this morning and promptly set about making a stew… for just the two of us. No, wait, let me correct that. He made breakfast first – bacon and toast spread with pesto, baked beans and a couple of poached eggs. Then he made the stew. And, you might think, after eating a seafood feast in Bretagne, Japanese food in Berlin, and almost-still-bloody zebra that a stew wouldn’t turn my head… but sometimes a simple stew makes all the difference; sometimes, it’s the kind of meal you’ll remember like the breakfast you had somewhere between Albury and Sydney over 20 years ago.

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Country: South Africa

Province/State: Gauteng

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Price Guide:N/A (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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