10 September 2012 by Chris Marais

Festival grub rocks!

A big part of having a good time at a South African country festival is to dive into the local cuisine and feast to your heart’s content.

The Candyfloss Man was a big hit at the Williston Winter Festival

I can now officially confirm that Williston in the Northern Cape is no country for old dieters. Especially during fiesta time.

Lamb on the spit – country festival highlight

Something happens at a Karoo festival to make everyone become absolutely ravenous. Maybe that’s the thing with country carnivals everywhere: there’s a bit of letting go, a suspension of reality. It’s like we all take a day off from being ourselves – loosen the old belt and let that koeksuster in.

So early in the proceedings on the Saturday morning of the Williston Winter Festival, the entire Upper Karoo seemed to thrum with the aromas of the traditional sheep braai, the kind of tasty barbecue that would lure a hermit of long standing from his cave for a snack.

The barbecue team stoked the thornwood fires, prepared the griddles and finally lowered meat onto flame. I could see rival braai fires at either end of the festival area. Their operators were eyeing each other competitively. Who had the best technique, the tastiest sauce, the finest cuts?

Something happens at a Karoo festival to make everyone become absolutely ravenous. Maybe that’s the thing with country carnivals everywhere.

The sosaties (kebabs) in a uniquely South African marinade were being sold straight off the fire, with hungry festival-goers ordering a dozen at a time.

While that was going on, the ladies of the local women’s auxiliary were creating a blizzard of pancakes, dusting them with cinnamon sugar and passing them around to all and sundry. I have never seen pancakes made so fast – or consumed so speedily.

I stopped by the Cupcake and Frankfurters-on-a-stick Lady's stand to give her some support, but the children in the crowd all streamed across to the Candyfloss Man to order spook asem (Afrikaans for ghost breath) and get stickied up.

Over at the Williston Mall, where crazy things are always on display, the order of the day was (as it is every day) the milkshake special.

Owner Elmarie Naude does something excellent with her milkshakes, something that makes a farmer suddenly sit up on a Sunday afternoon and drive halfway across the wide Karoo just to taste one.

I had a roosterkoek (griddle-baked bread), which is the specialty of the region.

You can fill it with meat, cheese or homemade apricot jam, and it still remains Karoo Tucker at its very best – and well worth the 2 000km round trip to get there and back...

Keeping the braai meat turning...

Category: Food & Wine

comments powered by Disqus