Africa - August 30, 2012

Both cute and obnoxious.
Penguins! Watched a brilliant ocean sunrise, then walked to Boulders Beach to see a protected colony of African penguins. Adorable little critters, especially when they're calling like a pack of disgruntled donkeys.* Inquisitive too, waddling as close to you as they can while rotating their heads left and right, trying to figure you out.

Back to the guesthouse for yet another fabulous breakfast (can't...button...pants...), then drove an hour home to Cape Town proper. With help from our friend Toni at The Backpack, Kate arranged for a Cape Malay cooking tour this afternoon. Cape Malay culture is unique to Cape Town,** its roots going back to the Sumatran slaves taken from their homes by Dutch colonists. The cuisine incorporates a wonderful blend of sweet and savory -- dishes use garlic, ginger, chili, curry, fennel, cumin, coriander seed, bay leaf, cardamom, and lots of turmeric.

Rollin' roti. Yeah, that's right.
Nizaam Peck with Impeckable Travel and Tours took us to the home of Faldela Tolker, who taught us to make falooda, spicy chili bites, roti, chicken curry, tomato & onion sambal, and samosas. I'm glad I didn't know beforehand that cooking with Faldela was listed here as one of the Top 10 Cooking Experiences Around the World; otherwise, I would have been self-conscious as my poorly-rolled roti dough broke over and over again in front of her.***

Faldela was born in District Six, and as we ate together, we learned much about race relations in South Africa, both before and after Mandela's release from prison. It's horrifying to imagine that only twenty years ago, we would have all been arrested for conspiracy, just for eating a meal with friends of mixed races.

After lunch, Nizaam took us to the Atlas Spice Shop, where I bought so many bags of spices that I had to give away some of my clothes to make room in the backpack.**** Pretty sure I have my priorities straight.

Bo Kaap district, known for its Cape Malay cuisine.
We raced to Auwal Mosque, the oldest mosque in Cape Town, right as the hauntingly beautiful call to prayer was being sung. Kate and I quickly wrapped our heads in scarves so we could see the interior before prayers began. A young cleric ran over to where we stood, graciously offering an overview of the building's architecture as well as a brief history of Islam in the region.***** You could tell he was genuinely happy to have the chance to explain his religion to westerners, and I wished more folks at home could see what we've seen today.

Brad's footnotes: 
* It was actually called the Jackass Penguin for a while.
** Definitely unique, but closely related to Indian cuisine (despite the "Malaysia" implication).
*** Faldela told Jenn to let me make the roti in our house. Not a reflection on Jenn's work, which was just fine, so much as an acknowledgement of my mad skillz.
**** The place sells curry, coriander, tarragon -- all the stuff we get in the tiny little glass bottles on the spice rack -- in giant bulk barrels, like trail mix at Fresh Market. It smelled awesome, at least if you didn't feel like crap because you were unknowingly coming down with the African Death Flu.
***** He didn't offer. He saw our guide explaining stuff to us and good-naturedly interrupted and took over. He was very excited to find outsiders curious about his religion, and dude was super-nice. He shook my hand as we left and apologetically kept telling Kate and Jenn, "I'm not allowed to touch you, but it's only because we respect you so much."

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