Monday, March 8, 2010

nelson wine estate and sunday at mzoli's

There's currently a heat wave plaguing Cape Town, and it was about 100 degrees Fahrenheit today... I haven't stopped sweating since I woke up this morning.

Classes and programs are still going well at Bonnytoun. Today we started out class having the boys do a short journal writing in their notebooks about what they did all weekend. The boys that can’t write drew pictures. We then divided the class into our three groups, and I reviewed nouns, verbs, and adjectives with my group of boys (Phelo, Dumisani, Ayanda, and Bradley – though the group sometimes varies from day to day based on attendance). Dumisani wasn’t present for my lesson last week, but the other boys did pretty a decent job remembering what nouns and verbs were! I asked Bradley if he could remember what a verb is, and right away he said: “something you DO.” I was proud. The schoolteachers at Bonnytoun told me that remembering information between lessons is difficult for the boys.

On Saturday we went to Nelson Wine Estate in Stellenbosch to do a tour and tasting. Our tour guide was a civil law attorney for eight years before going into the wine business... and apparently that's relatively common for lawyers to do around here! We learned the proper technique to taste wine, but our tour/tasting guide was pretty down to earth, and he told us not to stress out about trying to taste all the obscure flavors wine connoisseurs list. The flavors aren’t really there anyways... it’s just grapes after all... but instead it’s the sensations that the wine gives our mouths that remind people of certain flavors.

We learned a few interesting stories about the history of Nelson Wine Estate. There are many vineyards in the Cape Town area, and they used to pay their employees based on the “dop” system. The “dop” system meant that the employees paid their workers (usually lower class coloured or black South Africans) with wine in place of money. This just perpetuated the alcoholism rates and left families unprovided for. When Nelson bought this particular vineyard, however, he ended the implementation of the dop system on his estate. He put the employees on regular salaries, and designated specific areas of the vineyard for each employee. He set up incentives for the productivity of those specific areas, rewarding the workers whose land portions provided the most and best quality grapes for wine. He also set up a system that allowed the workers to eventually own portions of the land to manage themselves. Nelson had to make specific moves to get around certain laws that disallowed blacks to own land. He sounds like a really excellent, progressive, and moral businessman. We enjoyed the day, tasted and bought some wine, and went swimming in their pool.

Yesterday we went back to Mzoli’s (the famous meat restaurant in the township Guguletu) for the Sunday experience. We were told that people go to Mzoli’s religiously on Sundays, and they stay all day, eating meat, drinking beer, dancing, and having a grand old time. What a great way to spend a Sunday. We got there around 11:00 AM and were a little concerned at the scarcity of the crowd… but by the time noon rolled around the place was PACKED. You go inside to order the meat (and "pap," which is kind of like firmer, stickier grits, and salsa)… and then they cook it for you and you pick it up and bring it out to the table yourself. I got to see the cooking/grilling room too, which was pretty crazy. Those guys can really handle the heat and smoke, and do a damn good job of cooking at the same time. I didn’t partake in the meat this time, but I heard some pretty phenomenal reviews. The seating is outside, with tented shade. The whole place was just an uproar of festivity.

The meal. I believe there were 8 or 9 of us sharing this food.

Also important to note: No plates. No utensils. There are heaping bowls of meat, salsa, and pap in the middle of the table, and everyone just digs in with their hands.

1 comment:

  1. I would like to be sitting around that table right now! And, yes, I would be happy to enjoy it on a Sunday. As the Psalmist says: "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it!"