January 23, 2006

My Second Confession

My second confession: the cape gooseberry is not actually named after Cape Town.

It’s actually native to South America, and the ‘cape’ refers to its papery brown husk, which it wears like a little cape. But South African cuisine was – and is – informed by global influences. Our love for heavy desserts comes from the Dutch, our famous Peri-Peri sauce from Portugal and our Cape Malay recipes were naturally created by Malaysian slaves. Locals took foreign dishes, techniques and spices and adapted them to the wealth of local ingredients. To this day, our most famous restaurants generally celebrate a fusion of South African produce and Pan-Asian, European and American traditions.

So it doesn’t feel too out-of-place for me to take as my symbol a humble fruit which made a journey from South America, many years ago, to flourish like weeds at the bottom of my childhood garden. My favourite appellation of this berry, this intrepid, golden traveller, is its Afrikaans name: Appelliefie. Apple-beloved.

Check out the website of the California Rare Fruit Growers organization to learn more about this special, be-caped fruit, including the fact that it is related to the Strawberry Tomato and the Clammy Ground Cherry. Mmmm…

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