According to Richard Doty, professor and director of the Smell and Taste Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, scents are sometimes stronger facilitators of memory recall than visual or auditory triggers. And, of course, without smell, there can be no taste – the two form a partnership to provide us with that beautiful thing called ‘flavour’.
Scientists believe this is due to the fact that ‘flavour’ sensations are more novel than other triggers and get intertwined with our memories of places and events. In fact, the correlation between smell and memory is so profound, scientists have also found that the two degenerate together. Indeed, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s sufferers first lose their sense of smell before other neurological symptoms kick in.
This is probably the reason why the smell of coffee, rain on a dirt road or jasmine blossoms can make us feel emotional without us knowing why. Because smells and flavours awaken memories and remind us of our past.
A taste of Africa
For this reason, we have put together a list of the most ‘South African’ meals. If you want flavour to transpose you to a place far, far away, where the hartebeest graze idly past the stoep as the lads all crack open a can of castle lager… then try one of these…
The Malva pudding has Cape Dutch origins and its delicious taste is said to be down to its secret ingredient – apricot jam.
South Africa has two of these lekker, saucy sweet-stuffs. Depending on where you use to live, you’ll know Granma’s syrupy koeksisters or auntie’s coconut-covered koesisters. Either way, we’re sure you have fond memories of this afternoon delight.
The wonderful thing about walking into an old South African farmhouse is the residual smell of baking that permeates the air. It’s something a house cannot seem to get rid of. We still remember eating grandma’s mosbolletjies before she could get those rusks in the oven.
Klippies & Coke
Brandy may not have ‘brakes’, but few things remind us of home (and youth) as much as a glass of the old brandy special. Now, whether you’re choice of poison is a regular Klipdrift, Richelieu, premium or maybe the likes of a Cape Hope – it doesn’t matter. We say pour yourself stywe dop. (But don’t overdo it!)
And no, we’re not talking beef jerky here. We don’t even know what that is. Because it simply doesn’t make sense to have it any other way than the original. Hmmmm… can you taste the dried coriander pips between your teeth? Sure tastes like home, doesn’t it?
Chutney or nothing
Many a South African must have had a right little giggle at the expense of Mrs Ball’s. But we really can’t fault the tannie’s magical touch with the chutney. It goes so well with mice, braaibroodjies or a lekker snoek on the braai.
Jip, there’s no denying the fact that South Africans just have the best wors. Well, come to think of it, we have the only real wors in the world. Making sausages at home could be just what the family needs to infuse your new home with safa gees.
Pap & sheba
One of the easiest South African dishes to cook is undoubtedly pap and sous. Plus you can feed a small army with just a little bit of goodies. Why not try it with another local twist in the form of Chakalaka. We promise, you won’t be disappointed.
Whether you like it the traditional way – just like gran used to make, or the, ehem, new age way, in a shot glass. There are few things that remind us of youth as much as melktert. And cinnamon? Well, that little spice surely has no other application as delicious as this favourite tart.
We’re sure you have your own little flavours that remind you of growing up. Oxo sarmies, bobotie at the church bazaar, tomato and onion salad, or perhaps a little offal? Well, whatever your taste, make sure to add those items to your shopping cart this week and fix your family and neighbours some rainbow nation cuisine on the weekend.
If the cooking alone doesn’t make you feel better, the scents and taste of your cooking is bound to bring a smile to your face.
You’re not forgotten with finglobal.com
If you’re in the UK, Canada, New Zealand or Australia, you may also want to check out what finglobal.com is doing in your area. We try to bring a little bit of magic your way ever so often to remind you that, although you’re gone, you’re not forgotten.