16 June 2011 by Julienne du Toit

Memento from Wartrail

I have in my possession an amateurishly produced book called the Wartrail Country Cook Book.

It’s one of my favourite mementoes of a visit to Wartrail, a little know part of South Africa directly under Lesotho, in an area also referred to as New England or more whimsically Tail of the Dragon since it falls roughly where the Drakensberg mountains start to turn into foothills.

It conjures up vividly that singular part of the world which looks so very much like the wilds of Scotland that even Scottish people have been taken aback at the resemblance. I have lovely memories of travelling in this area, filled with friendly people.

Each recipe gives its creator and their farm. Typically, an entry will be on, say, “Kathy’s Large Crowd Filler” by Kathy Mitchell of Glencoe Farm.

Or Sosaties by Moira Sephton of Glengyle. Or Tessie’s Sticky Date Pudding by Mully Isted of Halstone.

It made me think a lot about the funny little things I bring back from my travels. They have me surrounded, in case you’re wondering. And I keep wondering what this place would look like if I really set aside time for shopping instead of gathering stories.

That’s why I like this tatty old recipe book. It celebrates a lifestyle of Aga stoves and big gatherings of family and farmers.

The info up front reads: “[Agas and Rayburns] are such an integral part of our daily farm life, warming up newborn lambs, drying snow-caked boots and rain-soaked jackets, warming milk for cottage cheese, drying sheets, drying herbs and most importantly, making the kitchen the hub of the house and responsible for many a memorable evening with friends.”

It’s winter now and the Tail of the Dragon will probably be white with snow again. The Agas will radiating heat in the kitchens. I want to go back. But in the meantime I’ll just seek out one of the hearty recipes. Beef and onions in beer looks good….

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