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Monkeys, Menus & Mealiepap

SOUTH AFRICA | Monday, 4 February 2013 | Views [1712] | Comments [1]

Today must be Sunday because we had bacon and eggs for breakfast. Mealtimes are unusual in several ways over here. Food is cooked in the kitchen in the Volunteer House and we then take out plates to the eating area which is a patio covered with a thatched roof supported by large posts and without walls. The view is lovely, especially in the evenings. However, this is monkey country and many of the monkeys that wander freely have been resident here at some point. One in particular called Ubaru who is missing an arm, is the chief thief. As you carry your plate to the dining area, he in particular is likely to spring from nowhere and relieve you of your food. Equally at the table if you are not constantly alert and aware, you are likely to lose something off your plate. Table etiquette goes out the window and in place of a serviette, you are more likely to find a stick! The mix of nationalities and languages around the table does make for some hilarity through misunderstandings and different senses of humour.

Some of the orphan babies are now being released into the Kindergarten pen during the day in the hope that they will find monkey surrogate mothers which will increase their chances of becomming part of a troupe that can, in time, be released back into the wild. Whilst this is the ideal situation, understandably their surrogate human mothers find the separation quite difficult as their babies sleep with them and are fed and washed by them. One of my roomies is surrogate mother to Toby and Klaus so they sleep in our room every night. She was away for a couple of nights and so I took over as foster surrogate mother. Toby is the smallest of the orphans and likes to sleep on your head. They have a very tight grip and he has a tantrum if you try and take him off. Not a day passes when I'm not glad that I had all my hair chopped off! This morning I woke up with a stiff neck with Toby and his not so sweet smelling nappy still attached to my head. Klaus was snuffelling all night as he is with the cold that has been going through Bambelela. Apparently it is a strain of baboon flu and our poor babies are struggling as a result. Adorable as they are, I was glad to take them to 'nursery' each morning and am looking forward to a more comfiortable night's sleep tonight. I can now identify 10 of the 20 odd babies so progress is being made.

I was helping 'Master Chef Damien' in the kitchen this afternoon preparing our dinner which was Pap Tert. Even when I explain what this is, it may be hard to imagine. Let’s start with pap. I am informed that there are two types of pap. Slap pap which is of the breakfast variety and pap which the standard mainstay in traditional African diet. Pap is made of ground maizemeal which is then combined with water to create a thick stodgy substance – more or less the equivalent of rice. The sauce can be made using a number of vegetable options or indeed as a vegetarian dish. For the adventurous (or the homesick) thank you to Damien who has volunteered his recipe for 4-6 people. See below:



For the Pap you can simply follow the instructions on the packet.

For the sauce:

3 medium onions

6 tomatoes

1 pack of bacon roughly chopped (or pancetta or sausage)

1 tin tomato & onion (or similar)

1 small tin tomato puree

Grated cheese

Garlic & herbs to taste

Fry diced onion until transparent, add tomatoes and a little sugar (to remove the acidity from the tomatoes)

Fry the bacon separately and then add to the onion mixture

Add in the tinned tomato and puree and simmer for 15 mins

Stir in additional vegetables of choice (suggest zucchini/mushrooms/peppers) and simmer for a further 5 mins. Switch off heat

Add garlic & herbs

In a deep dish spread a little pure sauce over the bottom, followed by a layer of pap, next sprinkle over cheese and then a layer of sauce with all the bits, repeat  (think lasagne)

Finally garnish with grated cheese and herbs and bake in a medium oven for around 2 hours. Switch off oven and ideally leave to stand in the warm oven for an hour or two. Serve & enjoy.

For the vegetarian option choose root vegetables such as carrots, butternut squash, marrow, sweet potato which should all be cut julienne. White potatoes can be sliced and baked and added as an additional layer. For variety use each vegetable as a separate layer.

Unfortunately I cannot provide the monkeys or African bush night sounds so you’ll have to imagine these.

Tags: africa, bambelela, mealiepap, orphan monkeys, volunteering




Thanks for keeping us up-to-date with your travel blog. It has been very interesting and is well written. Keep up the good work (on all fronts), thinking of you and send my love. xx

  Chynine Feb 4, 2013 6:40 AM

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