Wednesday, September 02, 2015

WATERBLOMMETJIES (APONOGETON DISTACHYOS)



Photographer Zam finds his inner Monnet (I love the pic)                                                                                                    Zam
If you are chomping waterblommetjiebredie, it’s likely that you’re in the Boland (south western Cape) and the optimism of spring is all around. Cape pond weed, the English name for these flowers, just doesn’t do them any good at all. I think the direct translation from the Afrikaans word ‘water flowers’ suits their romance better, but nothing beats ‘waterblommtjies’, which everybody calls them anyway, even English speakers.  These fantastic plants make their cheerful appearance in early spring and float about for a couple of months before they disappear with the diminishing water levels during early summer, so you had better make use of the brief window of opportunity and get your hands on a few these delicious blooms.

Commercial pickers oblige with delightful poses                                                                                                     UHG
How very Japanese, I feel                                                                                                 UHG
In Cape Town, most of the supermarket chain stores will have them on their shelves during spring, or you might be fortunate to come across some lads selling them on the side of Boland roads. Best of all is to luck upon a floral pond, strip down to your underpants and start picking; to avoid wet seats and undie-chafe on the drive home, it’s best to get naked…

Waterblommetjies pronouncing spring time in the Boland                                                                                      UHG
Now for a jolly good rinse...                                                                                                                                              UHG
                                                                                                           
Chef Stef conjuring up a little waterblommetjiebedie                                                                                                UHG
Stef's finished product, YUM                                                                                                                                                  UHG
When you think of waterblommetjies, the classic Cape dish, waterblommetjiebredie (stew), is what usually springs to mind. Being a ‘classic’ suggests that this traditional recipe has been around for eons and has thus stood the test of time. The dish is also classic in its simplicity: only four ingredients (lamb, waterblommetjies, Cape sorrel/lemon, onions, potatoes – salt & pepper) are traditionally used. But, as is the case with many traditional recipes, there are many yummy variations. If you want to bring out the traditionalist and forager in you, then substitute the lemon juice with the abundant springtime weed Cape Sorrel (oxalis/suurings/sour sucks).

Simply steamed, they are delicious                                                                                                                                  UHG
Steamed, seasoned and tossed in lemon juice and olive oil; complete with the obligatory Cape sorrel        UHG
Preserved they are similar to artichokes                                                                                                                        UHG
Leek, potato, waterblommetjie curry, Cape Malay style                                                                                                  UHG
Now that you have satisfied your inner traditionalist, you might consider a few alternatives such as a simple side dish of steamed or boiled waterblommetjies seasoned and tossed in olive oil, lemon juice and scattered with the obligatory sour sucks. Waterblommetjies are so similar in texture to artichokes that it would almost be rude not pickle and preserve them in the same way… perfect as an antipasti. If you want to bridge the gap between tradition and the eclectic then try a curried potato, leek and waterblommetjie soup done Cape Malay style. I dare you to be fabulous and come up with your own waterblommetjie amazingness…

A final note – before you cook your waterblommetjies, take time to give them a jolly good wash… lest you want them to taste like the chilly Boland pond from whence they came.


Making the most of a lucky find                                                                                                                                            UHG



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