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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1772

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SOUTH AFRICAN COOKERY
 
CHAPTER LVII
 

The food supply of South Africa varies considerably, according to locality. Corn, wines and fruit are cultivated in the neighbourhood of the Cape; up country the settlements are grazing farms. Much of the country is eminently suited for the cultivation of cereals, yielding two annual crops and producing some of the finest wheat in the world.

Meat Supply.—The supply of meat is plentiful. The Cape sheep is a peculiar breed, with a broad flat tail composed almost entirely of fat, which when melted often yields 5 or 6 lbs. This fat supplies the Cape housekeeper with a very good substitute for lard and frying oil. It also makes an excellent Savoury, when melted and spread on toast like marrow. "Biltong" is the provender of the Boers on the Veldt, and the most sustaining form of dried meat ever invented. The beef, or venison, is cut from the hind leg of the animal, from the thigh-bone down to the knee joint. After being salted and saltpetred, and pressed, it is dried in the sun, and may afterwards be kept for any length of time; for eating it is shredded with a pocket knife.

Game and Poultry.—Quails and many other birds are plentiful in South Africa, but partridges and pheasants are confined to the more northern regions. Deer are numerous, and are highly valued as food. The South African method of cooking venison in a baking pot, which no doubt was introduced by the old Dutch settlers, has much to recommend it. Fowls, ducks, turkeys, pigeons and hares are all abundant.

Fish.—The supply of fish is abundant in some parts and scarce in others. In addition to sole, turbot, salmon, mackerel, haddock and other fish known to us, there are varieties peculiar to the country; of these, the "silver fish" resembles whitebait, although larger, and is cooked in the same way. Cape Harders are almost identical with our herrings, while the Cape Creef may be described as crawfish. The Zulus look upon fish as a species of snake, and consequently impure, and unfitted for human food. Many South African colonists consider the iguana—a large kind of amphibious lizard a—very welcome addition to the bill of fare, and say that the flesh of this reptile is anything but unpalatable.

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