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The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Strand Day 11

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Another day in Strand with some walking at the beach once again. It’s the seventh time we’ve done this as far as I can tell and at an estimated distance of slightly more than six kilometres per walk, it means I’ve completed my beachathon…

Afterwards we drove into the wine regions. Right after Stellenbosch there are also Paarl and Franschhoek. First we went over to Paarl. The Afrikaners have built a monument for their language there. It’s quite an ugly monument. And when I’m in a reasonably amused mood, I might be tempted to say that it suits the language. Being German, you sometimes consider Dutch to be German with some kind of throat disease. That’s fairly incorrect, of course, as that’s the description for Swiss German and Dutch is much more different from German but hey… While I can’t speak Dutch or even understand it fully, it’s not too hard to grasp the topic of a conversation once you know German. And Afrikaans is mostly Dutch with a few sprinkles of their own and – as I’ve been told – minus the hard grammar. Thus, it sounds quite similar to Dutch and – for me at least – even more to Flemish, the Belgian variation of Dutch.

I guess all I’m trying to say that the creation of the Afrikaans language just doesn’t seem outstanding enough to merit a monument. Has any other language got a monument for itself?

What’s bitterly ironic for Afrikaans, though, is that people struggled to introduce the language and have it accepted at the beginning of the twentieth century. In fact, this seemed to be one of the points that fuelled the hatred against the British who wanted to force everybody to speak English. Eventually the British lost this battle and Afrikaans became established. So historically, this probably explains why people have been rather proud of the language, regardless of its originality. Unfortunately, once apartheid was in place, the government wanted to do the very same thing to the rest of the population: They planned to switch all schools, even the schools they had set aside for the black population, to Afrikaans. This didn’t go down too well and added to the protests that happened in the 1970s.

Anyway, when driving towards the Afrikaanse Taalmonument from Stellenbosch, there will be Wilderer’s distillery on the right. It’s been there for five years or so and my parents are very fond of what they produce. They produce a small range of spirits in rather small quantities. They all seem to be naturally made in a distilling machine right there and there shouldn’t be more than 15000 litres per year of it, from what we were told. Judging from all the award certificates in the tasting room, it’s not only my parents who like those drinks. From the tasting itself, I thought that the drinks certainly had distinct and strong tastes – some of which I didn’t like, though. We got one of the grappas and one spirit made with fynbos, the local plants you see around here.

Wilder's distillery

As the producers came here from Germany, everything is quite German around there. The owners, the talking during the tasting, many of the guests and the menu of the little restaurant they run in the garden. The specialty they offer are Flammkuchen, which is a bit like an ultra-thin pizza with scarce amounts of toppings.

Afterwards, we headed towards Franschhoek which is, as the name suggests, a French village. There were many French (hugenots) who came to South Africa early on and they’re said to be responsible for doing proper wine production down here. Franschhoek’s wine route is even labeled by Vignerons de Franschhoek today. Unfortunately, may favourite restaurant there, Gideon’s famous pancake place doesn’t exist anymore, so we just had some refreshments there as we had already made plans to have dinner elsewhere, at a place called 96 just before Stellenbosch.

Church in Franschhoek

Going there in the evening was nice. Before we ordered the waiter came around to show us the meat they had that night. And they offered prime rib at servings up to 900g. Somehow I could resist to have that, but had some seared tuna on artichokes and fennel instead. The dish was quite nice and the tuna was perfectly seared, still remaining raw on the inside. I just thought that the fish itself was a bit tasteless, which was disappointing. Good cooking that the ingredients couldn’t keep up with for a change. (My dad had the prime rib and he said the meat was good but it was cooked slightly longer than he wanted it to.)

What was remarkably good there, were the starters. I had a salad, called the ‘yummiest’ one on the menu. Not too extraordinary in composition – except for the quails’ eggs it included next to greens, tomatoes, pine seeds and so on – but perfectly done and conveniently bite sized. I have to admit that I’m a bit picky about the size of my food. I like it bite sized. I want to be able to eat my salad with a fork only and not have to do any cutting or acrobatics to make large pieces of lettuce or vegetable fit into my mouth. They’re cutting stuff anyway when preparing the salad, so they can as well go all the way for my convenience. (I guess this is one of the reasons why I’m so fond of Asian food – most of it comes handily bite sized.)

My parents’ starters were quite good as well and I’d rather not write about the dessert I had, which was once again disappointing. Altogether, this was still a rather nice restaurant. The only thing that I found irritating were the waiters. I think we were served by at least six different people during the evening. And I consider more than one waiter excessive and more than two too much. The guy who walked around, showing off the bits of meat and recommending stuff from the menu was quite funny. But he had too much of a sales pitch for my taste. He seemed to say exactly the same stuff at every table, which made me want to not trust him. (I suppose that’s quite a subtle point and very hard to pin down where the limit between good advice and advertisement is crossed – but I’m quite touchy when it comes to that.)

Regarding the many waiters – I’ve found that this is quite a common phenomenon in South Africa. As labour is cheap, there tend to be loads of staff. And every one of them just fulfils a little task. One leads you to your table. The next one brings the menus. The next one takes your order. The next one makes sure have the correct cutlery for your order. Another one handles the wine. Yet another one serves. And yet another one removes the dirty plates from your table… it’s not exactly like that but to a certain degree. It irritates me.

Wine and mountains.

March 12, 2005, 23:31

Tagged as country:za, south africa, travel.


Comment by Gideon Botha: User icon

Dear Sven, I am Gideon of the Famous Pancake House in Franschhoek, and am very glad to say that (against all odds) we have reopened our pancake house again. After an absence of 7 years we are back with all those wonderful fluffy pancakes! Please check us out on Trip Advisor and do tell your friends…

December 27, 2011, 10:21

Comment by ssp: User icon

Glad to hear that, Gideon!

My parents will be visiting the Cape soon and I’ll let them know about your reopening.

December 27, 2011, 20:00

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