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Posted 4/28/2018

Dining out is at best creating the alchemy of life.


However, much like the interminable chain restaurants in interminable shopping centres, we have created cotton wool around our needs and sensations in order to deal with culinary slush. And so we lose the magic that should be a dining experience.


Which reminds me of a time we were meandering around the Karoo. We were having a splendid old time, taking our time to look for interesting places - not just to fill our bellies, but also to toast the cook, perhaps, or even the wine maker.


We stayed in a charming B&B the night before, but decided find out some more about Colesberg, have a leisurely, late breakfast at one of the interesting-looking eateries around the big ol’ aunt, the Groot Kerk at the top of the main road.


We should have sniffed that something wasn’t right when we walked into the eatery and found not a soul to meet or greet us. We sat ourselves down and just before that moment when the long sighs begin to happen, a young, pretty looking Karoo gal emerged from the kitchen, giggled and came to say hello. Then she disappeared again. We were still sans menus and waited some more.


I humphed and headed for the kitchen. There, huddled, if you will, around the stove, were a small group of young people – I’d say around first-year university-size. They nudged one another when they saw me and one emerged from the pack.





“Menus?”, I said.


“Give to the auntie,” the tallest commanded the group.


Two ageing menus, more or lest the size of a skinnerbek broadsheet newspaper, were pulled from a pile under a counter.


The usual Karoo fare featured. After all, this is the land where chicken is more or less a vegetable. Graeme ordered the Farmer’s Breakfast. You know the one – the all-time favourite of the typical South African man. I ordered the lighter version.


We waited. And we waited.  Finally Ms Tolerance (that will be me – in other words, give me patience, but do it right now!) jumped up and this time stormed into the acrid-smelling kitchen. They were all still – or again – huddled around the stove. At a glance I realized that there was not a cook in sight.


“Coming now,” someone from the huddle called.


Fried eggs that would probably have bounced were I to do what I should have – thrown them at a wall. A little black tube that must have been a piece of boerewors once upon a time. Another bit of blackened stuff on the side.


This little Karoo town is conveniently almost halfway between Johannesburg and Cape Town (although Hanover, another 100 kms or so from Colesberg towards Cape Town, is in fact the precise halfway point). Have a look at - there are a number of good guesthouses along the route.


If I were to analyze the bad experience, it un-ticks all our requirements of a pleasurable dining experience: good service, a welcome at the door, tasty, fresh food, comfortable ambience - as well as the x-factors.


And finally, how difficult could it be to tick boxes.