Two by Two April 17 2011

Thoughts from Jennifer. Mamelodi, South Africa. April 16, 2011. Part1/2

Saturday, April 16th part 1/2

Today was a low key day for Connor and Amanda, or “the kids” as I have become used to calling them since everyone seems to think that both of them are my children. For me though it was a day of errands in preparation for a dinner that we would be hosting on Sunday for the Beaded Hope ladies and their families. Despite the rain we managed to run to Cakes of Africa and Pick-N-Pay. It was much to my surprise, a day filled with new adventures (and, by now, hopefully you know how much I love an adventure). So, let’s begin with Cakes of Africa where we ordered a cake for Sunday dinner. While driving to this first stop I learned that if we did not collect our cake promptly at 10:00am as scheduled then the cake would be sold, at a lower price, to another customer. What? Now, I’m used to being able to arrive on the DAY that I order a cake but the idea that we had to arrive exactly at 10:00 to collect our cake was simply preposterous. Driving into the parking lot at Cakes of Africa I immediately noticed a queue (you know, a line) of people snaking out the door. In amazement I asked why the line of people, standing in the rain, waiting to get into the cake store. Seemingly, this is quite normal. (Mighty always says “seemingly” by the way. It’s very endearing.). When people want a cake they are willing to stand in a QUEUE in the RAIN to collect it at EXACTLY the scheduled time. When I stepped into the bakery I began to understand. In a space that was no larger than 10 feet by 15 feet was a crowd of people waiting for their cakes. No big open spaces with lots of cookies, pies and other sweets to select for yourself like we have in America. Even in France and Portugal you can at least step up to the bakery case, take a look at the options and make a selection without queues or rain. Once it was our turn we stepped up to the iron bars (where all the cakes were stashed far from reach) and told them that we had an order waiting. Yes iron bars, behind which there were at least 30 employees frantically frosting and decorating stacks (literally) of cakes.

Prompt collection times, queues and iron bars were certainly not my expectation for a bakery in South Africa, or anywhere for that matter. Next we went to Pick-N-Pay, one of the local grocery stores, to get the bulk of the supplies for dinner. When planning for this meal I had requested that a few traditional dishes be included on the menu. Specifically, I want creamed spinach and pumpkin, two common, and yummy, vegetables that are often included in a South African meal. Fortunately, as expected, our grocery store portion of our adventure began in the produce department. What I did not expect was for this white squash to be considered a pumpkin.

As always, I asked the obvious question; why is South African squash short, dumpy and white while ours is plump, round and orange? Seemingly there are many versions of “pumpkin”, some white, some green, some smooth, and some bumpy. However! There is also the butternut squash and it is always butternut squash. Confused? Me too. But just wait. I also love South African creamed spinach so much that I added it to the menu. Much to my surprise this is what was put in the trolley (shopping cart).

Now I admit that I should have put something in this picture to give you a little perspective but trust me when I tell you that these spinach leaves were HUGE. I’m talking twice the size of leaves of romaine lettuce. So, once again, I asked the obvious question. And, once again, I was told that there are many things that are considered “spinach” in South Africa. Hmmm. I’m sensing a trend.

Two shopping carts, two hours and two trends later we completed our task of purchasing all the food for our Sunday meal while leaving me in utter confusion.