11 May 2011 by Robyn Campbell

Where to get a great Gatsby

It seems that every city has its sandwich; with slices of bread the equivalent of a book cover inside which a culinary tale awaits.

New Orleans has the muffaletta, Vietnam the banh mi, and New York has the Reuben.

In South Africa, Durban’s Bunny Chow (technically a 3-D sandwich) is iconic, and Jo’burg has the kota - a carbo-loaded combo of chips (fries), Vienna sausages, atchar or chilli sauce and sometimes a fried egg, stuffed into a quarter (‘kota’) loaf of white bread.

Now, Cape Town has begun to brag about its signature sandwich.

Gatsbys have been on the blackboard and take away menus of working class corner cafés and canteen restaurants (usually Halal), from Athlone to Lambert’s Bay, for years.

A delicious - and enormous - local ‘fast food’, every Gatsby-maker has their twist on this South African submarine sandwich.

To make a Gatsby, at the minimum, you need a supermarket bakery baguette. The whiter, fluffier, more refined and less nutritious, the better. You lose points for organic, stone-ground, or whole-wheat. Slice it lengthways and spread it with lots of mayo or any other sauce of your choice.  A layer of freshly sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and perhaps shaved raw onion is added. Doesn’t sound too artery-clogging yet, does it?

Next, a basket full of potato chips (fries) goes into the deep-fat fryer (now we’re talking), and while they soak-up all those trans-fats your doctor told you not to eat, the cook will quick-fry some masala (a blend of curry spices) marinated steak and onions on the flattop grill.

Don’t fancy steak? You can have chicken, mutton, Vienna or Russian sausages, even boerewors, or vegetarian polony. If you’re vegetarian, I’d say ‘no’ to the polony and ‘yes’ to the fried eggs and cheese, instead.

By now, the foot-and-a-bit-long baguette is already overflowing with salad, sauce, fried steak and onions, and whatever else your unhealthy little heart desires. Ask for a couple more shakes of masala spice if you’d like it hotter, before the final kombers (blanket) of Aromat-sprinkled ‘slap’ (soft) chips is piled onto your Gatsby. (Aromat is a popular commercial savoury seasoning eaten on everything from chips to popcorn.)

Your Gatsby is wrapped in greaseproof, and handed to you, scalding hot, to eat at one of the plastic canteen tables; or to take away, and scoff wherever you please. Note: fizzy, sugar-laden soft drinks are compulsory when you’re eating a spicy Gatsby.

There you have it. The Mother City’s MOTHER of a sandwich. Yes, it’s a heart-attack on a baguette, but be bold! You can always hike up Table Mountain or flush your arteries with fine Cape red wine ...

Popular places to get a Gatsby in Cape Town:
Cosy Corner - 119 Ottery Road, Wynberg, Tel: +27 (0)21 797 2498
Otterey Farm Stall - 52 Ottery Road, Ottery, Tel: +27 (0)21 704 2211
Golden Plate - Shop1, Block 2, Gatesville Centre, Klipfontein Road, Gatesville
Aneesa’s - Lower Klipfontein Road, Athlone, Tel: +27 (0)21 638 0699
Bona - Victoria Road; Grassy Park, Tel: + 27 (0)21 705 3015

Image courtesy and copyright the Golden Plate.


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