A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Child’s Play: Bobotie and Other Delights

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 2, 2007

This morning I saw a headline on my Google Alert – Bahrain that made me burst out laughing:

Bobotie in Bahrain.

The article announces a South African food and wine week being put on by the Gulf Hotel – which I am sure will be a feast.

I do feel that I ought to warn Bahraini parents that this might not be a child-friendly affair – especially for expats with picky young ones.

Years ago, Fantastic Foods (whose couscous I mentioned in Fantasy Foods: Just Add Water) came out with a Bobotie package mix. My mother, as adventuresome in her food choices as in all other areas of her life, bought one – eager to bring some culinary diversity into our Midwestern diets.

Bobotie is a spicy meat pie dish that originated in Cape Malay (for one recipe, see Global Gourmet).

Whatever flavor and whatever culture it might have brought to our family table was submerged – or, more accurately – drowned out by a 10 year old rube: me.

To commemmorate the trauma of having to eat this dish, I re-worked a song, “Love is Always Better the Second Time Around”. My version honored leftovers – and disparaged bobotie.

Dinner’s always better the second time around,

except for bobotie, which we feed to the hounds.

The hounds, they hate it – it makes them fat.

They run so slowly that they can’t chase cats.

What it lacks in artistic intensity, it more than made up for in heartfelt passion.

I am sure that if I tried the dish today, I would have a much more positive (and hopefully more eloquent) reaction.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that Owlfish and Marzapane both enjoyed the dish when their mother, Umm Owlfish, made it for them a few weeks after I sang the song for them. The problem was my immature tastebuds – not the dish itself.)


4 Responses to “Child’s Play: Bobotie and Other Delights”

  1. S. Worthen said

    Funny, I remember the song, but I don’t remember eating the dish!

  2. Well, what can I say?

    A national dish with years of tradition and culinary richness behind it, vs. my great gifts as a ten-year-old songwriter? which of these would logically be the more memorable :-)?

    Actually Owlfish it was probably more due to the fact that your mother is a greatly talented cook – so for you it was probably one among many samplings of the world’s cuisines.

  3. marzapane said

    Wow, what a blast from the past! When I read the title of this post, I said to myself “bobotie? what’s that?.” Then… it began to sink in. I remember that song as if it was yesterday. I do have a vague memory of eating it (peanuty and spicy, perhaps??), but certainly your genius song remains far more imprinted in my memory.

  4. Marzi as I wrote to your sister, I am so pleased to know that I made such an impact :-).

    One of my favorite memories involving the younger you, the younger me, and words came from a lunch at your house when I was oh … 13 or 14. I said the word “either”, pronouncing it EYE-ther.

    You looked at me and asked, is that how you pronounce it? You don’t say EEEE-ther?

    Errrrr, I said, feeling suddenly unsure. There are (or at least were) so many words I knew only from reading. Perhaps this was another case like “mee-dee-ock-ree”, a word that had mystified my parents until I wrote it out for them.

    Oh Marzi, your father interjected kindly, its alright. Everyone knows that Clive people talk funny!

    15+ years later, the memory still makes me laugh :-).

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