What is ever nicer than eating in a restaurant? Joining locals for a meal at home, of course! In South Africa, we are invited for dinner by Zimisele and his family. They live in a township near Mthatha. Close to the place Nelson Mandela spend his youth. Yet, only seldom tourist find their way to this place. How do we end up here? By ResiRest: discovering the true local (food)culture in South Africa.
Are we lost?
We leave busy Mthatha and drive in between barren hills with plain little houses as far as the eye can see. Our host send the coordinates of his house by WhatsApp. Google maps doesn’t find us the address. We go off the main road, turning into a small sandy road. Sheep cross the street, and a curios man asks us if we are lost. No, we are expected. We receive another message by WhatsApp: “I am outside wearing a red shirt.”
Chickens and a puppy
The man in the red shirt introduces himself as Zimisele, “but you can call me Zim.” He walks us to the house. In the scenery of dry meadows, we see two pink house, a round and a square one. Chickens are ranging freely near the door. Next to the door, a puppy lays ultimately satisfied in the sun. “Come on in”, we hear. A woman in bright yellow shirt & headscarf waves us in with a large spoon. “I hope you guys are hungry?”
Small local tourism in South Africa
Zim and his wife Noxolo are visited by tourists sometimes. They run a modest homestay. You can sleep in the round house in the garden. “People can experience real local life this way,” explains Zimisele. He started his career in the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha. “In 2004, I ran out of options to develop myself in this job. I started my own little homestay, together with my wife. Also, I am a guide for Nelson Mandela tours.”
The tours being about Nelson Mandela is no coincidence. He is raised in Mthatha. “Their house is over there”, the house of Mandela and his mother. Just 100 meters from Zim’s own premises. He takes tourist to see the special places, like a the church and family graveyard.
In the dining room there’s an enormous table, set very pretty. “It looks like a restaurant”, says Patrick. This makes Noxolo laugh. “Come, let me show you the food”, she says. The kids, Amila and Camagu, get the last bowls from the kitchen. All the food is gathered at a side table. Noxolo explains the dishes one by one. There is a chutney of beet, spinach, mashed pumpkin, rice, and potatoes of the market. “And this in Umngqusho”, she points out to the bean dish. “It is a traditional dish from this region, and everybody loves it. She notes I am looking at the sausages. “No worries. These are vegetarian sausages and I made a sauce by using onions.”
Especially for us: vegetarian sausages.
Home grown veggies
With full plates we sit at the table. Zim asks his son to make a prayer. Camagu is shy, but the Amen at the end is loud and clear. We fall by and attack our plates. The first minutes we eat in silence. I enjoy the plain and tasty dishes. Noxolo tells us her secret. “All vegetables are from our own garden.” Her husband nods: “Yes, but that’s only half part. I am blessed with my woman who cooks this great.”
During dinner, Zim tells about the Apartheid. And about how he lived his childhood in this poor region of South Africa. “My children don’t see how good life is now.” Amila chuckles to her brother. “They go to school and have a decent meal every day.” Noxolo throws her hands in the air: “It’s unbelievable how much they can eat!” the kids laugh out loud.
Astronaut and physician
When Camagu tells me, he wants to be an astronaut, I ask him where he want to go first. No doubt here, pointing up: “To the moon!” His sister is also quite ambitious. She wants to become a physician. To prove us they are smart enough for these jobs, Camagu gets his Rubik’s cube. He starts, focused and high speed, turning on the cube. Soon, one field turns white which he proudly shows. I clap my hands enthusiastically. The total solution is not there yet. “Next time!” If we come back one day, we like to see you solve the whole puzzle. And that’s a deal!
The Resirest Family.
Daisy and Patrick in South Africa
Daisy Scholte and Patrick Boone travel the globe and write about it on their website. So, get your inspiration to travel South Africa or other countries from alldayeverydaisy.com ! All pictures in this article are by Daisy.
Directly support a local family by sharing a meal. Check all places, famillies, and food in the free ResiRest app. See you soon in South Africa!