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THE FOOD WE ATE.  5. Boerewors. [Farmer’s Sausage]. [5min read]

This is the quintessential component of a good South African braai – barbeque just does not cut it.  This wors is worth a few words on its own.  It’s such an appropriate time as we enter the mad festive season over the next few weeks.

I have been a vegan for several years now, but the smell of the boerewors is the olfactory equivalent of Hamelin Town’s Pied Piper to me. On a 2016 trip to Cape Town, I jettisoned veganism. No other sausage in the world has done that to me.

On day one, the smell of the sizzling delight drew me by the nose to track down the boerewors sizzle somewhere in the Century City mall close to where we stayed.  A strip of tomato sauce and mustard squeezed in rows along the top of the wors with some fried onions, added to the sheer delight of the piquant treat. Holidays are for enjoyment.  I was not having any “if only I weren’t a vegan“ moments.

The pheromonal magnet of this tantalising wors is from the combined smell of the meat and coriander which makes it somewhat unique in sausage flavouring. It seems to have originated from France.  Afrikaners lay claim to this as their invention, in the same way they lay claim to kennetjie and the Afrikaans language [see separate blogs].

Recipes  and origins aside, the first bite on a boerewors sandwich roll always ends up with dabs of mustard and tomato sauce around my mouth.  There’s no other way to eat your first one after a long period!

There would be fewer more tempting sights than a rolled up full length of boerewors in a fold-over grill on the braai fire. The closed grill makes turning a cinch.

The wors also does well in a pan in the kitchen.  To the braai purists this is sacrilege, I know. A pan is used when there is no time for a braai or if it’s raining or cold or you just had to have some boerewors any day of the week.  Carnal cravings do this to one. Many people prick the skin to allow the relish to cook in its own fat; now that is farther sacrilege.  In my carnivorous past, it dried out the sausage when pricked, so a slow start with a bit of water in the pan was used to get things underway with no pricking. [Thanks CB, my wonderful late father-in-law]. It will quickly cook in the fat that had melted and found its way into the pan.

Another pan would be going on the stove top or driepoot pot on the fire with a tomato, chili and onion smoortjie – a salsa relish common in Cape Malay cooking [more of this in a future blog; yet another Afrikaner “original”].  My later expertise required garlic and even ginger as essential spicing; yes, even a few cloves thrown in early on. {Just don’t chew on them later!]

My favourite with boerewors was to have the smoortjie generously ladelled over mash potatoes. Many people prefer their smoortjie on stuiwe pap [dry-cooked maize meal.]  Regardless of one’s preferences, that was my meat-eating heaven.

How I miss those pre-heart surgery braai days!  Who invented cholesterol?  It sounds  like a Russian Communist conspiracy to me.  Remember those spy under-the-bed-days?  Why else were the Russians in Angola if not to steal our boerewors?  Die rooi gevaar [red threat] was real, not just a figment of our State propagandists’ imaginations. Never mind Angola’s fishing and oil and mineral wealth.  The Reds had taken a liking to braai boerewors and smoortjie along with their vodka!

Boerewors done in other parts of the world just ain’t right even when made by South Africans.  The main problem is too much salt.

Years ago, I think it was Morrison’s butchery, at top end of Strand Street, that did some of the best wors in Cape Town.  Thee best was from Grabouw, but even the supermarkets churn out some decent sausage these days.

My pre- and post-vegan lives are vastly different.  I still miss the cheese, but I can walk past a table full of the best cheeses.  I know that I could not do that with a sizzling  boerewors in Cape Town.

So, enjoy the festives and take care out there wherever you are.  Maybe there will be a bit of wors on your braai in the days ahead.


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