Driving along Olifantsfontein road on a chilly morning in Jozi, I caught sight of about 5 men dressed in overalls and aprons. They were cooking on big cast iron pots, one was stirring the pap, the second one chopping the liver, the third chopping onions, the fourth was cleaning the offal and the fifth was busy with the fire. I’ve never seen men cooking in such big pots in the city. I found that to be very interesting……
I pulled over and went to have a look at what was being cooked in those big pots. Pap, sheep’s heads, sheep liver, indigenous chicken, mutton and tripe were simmering in the pots. I reckoned I was in for a treat as I don’t usually get all these delicacies served at one place except for when we slaughter a sheep back at home. I watched as some of the food was being prepared, minimal seasoning is used i.e. salt and some peppers. If you thought stirring /cooking pap for six people at home was hard work then try stirring a pap pot prepared for serving 80-100 hungry people. Tjoe!
Oaitse, a humble, dedicated, and disciplined young man is managing this initiative. Oaitse and his older brother came up with the idea and Oaitse is managing the business on a daily basis.
Usually, young men are seen braaing at Shisa Nyama’s so it is rare to see them cooking traditional food, especially on a large scale. I asked Oaitse a few questions about his inspiration and food background.
What inspired you to start the business?
After 10 years of working, I wanted to do something for myself and I saw a gap in food especially the traditional food. A lot of people are doing Shisa Nyamas we wanted to do something different.
Where did you learn you to cook?
I used to watch my mother and grandmother cook but I really started to learn how to cook from grade 7 because I was at boarding school, therefore, had to learn to be independent.
I notice most of your customers are men do you have women buying your food?
Men make the majority of our customers but we do get some regular female customers. Some of them come from far but they are willing to travel just for the food.
How often do they come?
They usually come on Saturdays. Unlike men who usually have their food on the spot these women bring saucepans and carry their food home for household consumption. Mostly they buy Mala le mogudu (tripe).
On chatting with some of the customers I wanted to know what they thought of the food and what makes them keep coming back. A guy named Richard replied:
“The food is delicious as a result some of us are not even from around this area but we don’t mind driving from the other side of town just to buy the food. At home, our wives don’t want to cook offal because according to them preparing such indigenous food is tedious and tripe invites flies.”
One of the customers said that he once bought a sheep’s head and feet expecting them to be prepared at home instead it rot in the fridge.
As a gesture of Ubuntu since I was the only woman amongst 30 men, Oatse offered me a man’s portion of pap and tripe. As I surprised by the size of the food other customers joking said that the food is for men and Oaitse and his team are acquainted with serving men.
Customers come park their cars whether for a takeaway or to eat by the fire. As I was busy taking pictures of the food, some of the customers volunteered to have their photos taken as well. Hehe!
Although I emphasised that I need just a few photos they urged me to take me. More pictures will be posted on the Facebook page.