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Welcome to Langon and a Taste of South Africa!

May 21, 2010

We arrived in Langon on Wednesday night after what felt like a decade on various trains. We had arrived into Bordeaux after the last train to Langon had departed, so A and D (the couple we’re house-sitting for) graciously offered to come pick us up. Neither A and D are actually from Langon or even Bordeaux. A is from Ireland and D is half French, half South African. They met here in Bordeaux a few years ago and have lived in the region ever since.

Back at their lovely home in Langon, we were seated out on the deck under a canopy of yellow roses and treated to a midnight supper; a wonderfully unusual South African dish called bobotie from D’s childhood home. Bobotie recipes are actually quite varied as everyone tends to put their own spin on this spiced-minced-beef-with-crumble-style meal. D’s variation had minced beef with an apple crumble topping and was served with a mango chutney and rice. My first thought as I surveyed this sweet-savoury concoction was of an episode of Friends in which Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) mistakenly adds minced beef between the layers of jam and custard in an attempt to make an English trifle for dessert*. Thankfully, D knew what she was doing and her bobotie was delicious. Come to think of it… one of the most beloved dishes in the Rheintal region of Switzerland where my father is from also combines an odd mix of savoury (macaroni-style pasta, cream, cheese and fried onions) and sweet (apple sauce). I guess that probably strikes those who come across it as pretty strange too…

In other news, I have been stricken by the worst case of hay fever… ever. No antihistamines are strong enough to do more than put a slight 10-hour damper on it’s raging party of symptoms: runny nose, itchy watery eyes, fatigue and gunky… everything. The dry heat here is a nice, albeit sudden, change from the wet, chilly weather back in Switzerland, but good god… I can’t wait for these allergies to pass!




*some of the pages in the recipe book had gotten stuck together, which resulted in her following half the recipe for shepherd’s pie and half the recipe for English trifle.

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