The Southern Suburbs Sprout Shortage

There are no Brussels sprouts in the Southern suburbs of Cape Town. In fact, there seems to be an overall shortage of Brassicaceae generally.

I’ve never really understood the huge rush to buy stuff just before Christmas.  The shops are, after all, only closed for one day. In fact, since every branch of Woolworths (the South African version) is open on Christmas Day*, that’s not even true this year. Thus, I was both slightly surprised and rather disappointed to find empty shelves reminiscent of Eastern Europe when I was out and about this morning.

And there were no sprouts. If there’s ever a time of year when demand for sprouts will be somewhat increased, it’s surely now. Am I really the only one who feels this way?
Don’t even get me started on parsnips… Really.

I’m back home and settled now, having come to terms with a sproutless Christmas dinner, so please don’t post comments telling me where I could have or should have tried in my quest for traditionally festive vegetables. I will be happily quaffing a beer by the pool and not listening.

Have a lovely Christmas, dear readers and thank you for all your support this year. That’s not to say that I won’t be blogging tomorrow or any other time before the New Year, but I recognise that you may just too busy shopping (or just too drunk) to come and read. 

 

 * obviously, the UK version is very closed.

2010 rip-off

As Sepp Blatter finally told the world that there was no plan B and that there was no way that 2010 World Cup would be held anywhere except South Africa (again), I was out and about, trying my best to fulfil his wish that South Africa must get more involved in and more enthusiastic over the event, now just days away, (albeit 542 of them).

Ever since the 2010 Mascot – a cuddly green-haired leopard called Zakumi, was revealed to the world – I have been trying to find some 2010 merchandise with him on for my young son. And it’s been harder than you might imagine. Official outlets are few and far between and even when you find one, they rarely stock children’s stuff. Good plan, guys. That’s great thinking right there. Nice work.


Zakumi

Today, I finally found what I was looking for. A t-shirt for a 3-4 year old with a picture of Zakumi on.
Yours for just… R190. (£12.70, $19, Zim$168,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000).

To me, credit crunch, global financial crisis or whatever, that is an obscene amount of money for a toddler’s t-shirt. Now, I’m not stupid*. I know that as soon as something has a logo on it, the price goes daft. But even Naartjie, South Africa’s premium over-priced kids clothing store can’t match that for a kids t-shirt.  When that happens, you know it’s stupid money time.

As with any event where there is money to be made, I expect to see plenty of knock-offs in the lead up to the tournament. And while I certainly don’t advocate buying fake merchandise, one has to say to FIFA – if you don’t want a black market, don’t create one with outrageous prices like that (you greedy bastards).

* Hush. And stop thinking that.

Learning the hard way

“Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”

It’s been a “fun” morning.
You know – “fun”? Like going to a local shopping mall with hopelessly inadequate parking 12 days before christmas. “Fun”. 
Yet, desperate to get into the festive spirit, despite the temperature outside being in excess of 30°C, we had headed out in search of a christmas tree. We chose to go artificial this year. Not ideal, but when you consider the utterly appalling range of twigs and mangled branches which claim to be the genuine article, together with their propensity to shed razor sharp needles all over the floor after being in one’s house for more than an hour, not really a tough decision.
Better then to go with the neatly boxed plastic version with integral fairy lights and needle-free-carpet guarantee.

“Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”

Game at the Kenilworth Centre was suitably over-priced, under-stocked and chock full of clueless employees being unhelpful and impolite customers binging their 0.5% interest rate reduction away. Thanks for that, Tito
While the season and the weather here may be rather different from back home, it’s nice to recognise some of the christmas traditions have made it safely over. We went for the 6′ (180cm) version – anything else just looks foolishly small – threw it in the trolley with a bit of tinsel and some baby food and set off on the 3 mile trek back to the car, which was parked 3 miles away.

 “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”

Feeling slightly weak after the ordeal of fighting our way through a billion (apparently blind) shoppers and inhaling lungfulls of car fumes during the return expedition through the parking lot, the wife suggested a stop at the McDonald’s across the road for suitable sustenance. Namely a chocolate milkshake for her, a really unhealthy burger for me, a Happy Meal for the boy and absolutely bugger all for the baby (we’re still trying to wean her off chicken mcnuggets).
And here, after all those other hard-learnt lessons about fir trees, Kenilworth Centre’s parking problems, foolish times of the year to go shopping and so on, is where I learnt the hardest lesson of all.  
“Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”  “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”

McDonald’s Happy Meal toys now make noises. Did they ever do that before?
Sure, some of them moved and stuff, but Alex the Lion from Madagascar 2 – Escape to Africa (I tried it, it’s not too bad, but avoid Jo’burg) goes  “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!” every time you shake go within 10 feet of him. My little Alex is delighted that, although his chesseburger wasn’t up to much, his small leonine namesake makes a noise. Repeatedly. An  “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!” noise. 

Alex the Boy has gone for his midday nap now. Alex the Lion is still “Ooh!” “Ha ha!” “ROOOOOOOOOAR!”ing despite currently residing at the bottom of the swimming pool. 
Yep, you can say what you like about the Chinese, but when it comes to making annoyingly resilient cheap plastic crap, there’s no-one that comes close.

EDIT: And in reponse to this, these (with more at flickr):

        

More great publicity for SA

There’s no such thing as bad publicity? Really?

From the front page of the BBC News website: some more negative stories about South Africa.


Negative perceptions

I’m not saying they’re not true stories. Just that I’m fed up of having to dig deeper for the good news, while the bad stuff is repeatedly thrust into my face.

Crossing borders: South Africa hit by Zimbabwe’s cholera crisis 
HIV drug high: South African teenagers smoking anti-retrovirals

Oudtshoorn flashback

Oudtshoorn (roughly pronounced Oats-Horn) is a small town in the Western Cape which claims to be the ostrich capital of the world. And that might not sound like much of a pull, but if you want to do anything to do with ostriches, visit ostrich-related attractions and buy ostrich-related merchandise, Oudtshoorn is your number one destination of choice. It’s a couple of years since I was last there, but I don’t think it will have changed much, based on the fact that when I was there it didn’t appear to have changed much since colonial times.
I got into a spot of bother with my traveling companions on that particular visit, due to a comment I left in the guest book at the excellent Jemima’s restaurant. Having enjoyed all that Oudtshoorn had to offer during the day, I felt compelled to sample the speciality dish – ostrich – for my dinner. Then, perhaps buoyed by a sense of a day completed in fine style, together with some (or more) decent Cabernet Sauvignon, I reached for the visitor’s book on the way out and wrote:

Saw one.
Fed one.
Rode one.
Ate one.

Which, despite being absolutely true, was considered – in stark contrast to dinner – to be in rather poor taste and invoked the spirit of the Derbyshire butcher specialising in game meats who had the display of rabbits hung outside his shop next to the sign:

Watership Down.
You’ve read the book.
You’ve seen the film.
Now eat the cast.

All of which meandering brings me to EatBabe.co.uk and its startlingly similar tagline:

Choose pig.
Name pig.
Visit pig.
Eat pig.

Personally, I think they lose it slightly with the extra syllable on the third line, but it’s still a good effort. And yes, you adopt a piglet, they lovingly care for it, nurture it and feed it; and then slaughter it, chop it all up and deliver it (vacuum packed, nogal) to your door.

A whole pig weighs in at about 40-50kg of meat. This usually works out between £280 and £350, though never more than £380. For this price you get all of the meat back from your pig, butchered, vacuum packed, weighed, labelled and priced ~ just how you would like to find it. In terms of cost, you are paying about £100 more than in a supermarket, the same as in a good butchers, and £160 less than London prices. Any offal you choose to have from your pig is free of charge.

The advantages of this system? You know exactly where your pig came from, where it has been and what it has been eating: “From field to fork, from pasture to plate – tracking your food every step of the way”.

I can already imagine the Oudtshoorn farmers planning the South African equivalent. If only there was some tear-jerking family film about a talking baby ostrich which they could use the name from. 

Perhaps that’s all that’s holding them back.