29 April 2011 by Chris Marais

Breakfast in Bo-Kaap

If you find yourself in central Cape Town of an early morning, I can recommend a stroll through the historic Bo-Kaap district.

Bo-Kaap is the Chelsea-fied section of Cape Town’s Malay Quarter. It was built in 1836 for the recently-freed slaves of that time, artisans and craftspeople who had been brought over from mostly Indian Ocean countries like Madagascar, Indonesia, India and Malaya.

The colours of the little Georgian style houses, splashes of burning pinks, milkshake greens, dashing oranges and sea-blues, initially had the purpose of denoting which trade each family followed. The colours were not encouraged during Apartheid but today the Bo-Kaap is back to being a fanciful Cape architectural bouquet again. The houses gleam like jewels in the overcast light - poppy, garnet, ochre, marmalade and saffron.

It’s the Day of Hajj, the day before Eid-ul-Adha, the Day of Sacrifice. We walk down one of the Bo-Kaap streets, there is the savoury spiced smell of Breyani in the air. Men and boys in traditional Islamic dress pour out of a mosque, greeting each other as they clop over the cobblestones.

We are starved, and agree on greasy samoosas for breakfast. The man at the Biesmiellah Café says to wait 20 minutes and then he’ll feed us the best samoosas in town. They are truly worth the trouble.

At the Rose Corner Café the lady behind the counter sells us a Muslim cookbook called Boeka Treats (snacks to break the Ramadan fast with) and we return to Long Street for more breakfast of the pepper steak variety at the Halaal Pie Corner. Tomorrow, we’re back on carrots, water and power-walking through Greenpoint…

Category: Culture & History

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