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Good Friday Memories

With teary eyes from slicing too many onions to mention, Adele Smith remembers the moms, aunts and grandmas that taught her the beauty and art of cooking and traditions.


So this just happened... julle!



The queue at the fish counter was looooong, but I was inspired by all the photographs of pickled fish. And although I’m all about that convenience life at the moment, I walked to the convenience fridges where 500 g tubs were stacked like gold bullion bars, and I just couldn’t do it. R99 or at times north of R100 per tub. I couldn’t.


I remember my childhood fondly when we would gather as an extended family on Good Friday. Every year at a different home, siblings, aunts and uncles taking turns hosting. After the three-hour Good Friday service, we would have a quick and welcome lunch of fried fish, mash, my mom’s curried fish (like pickled fish and hot cross buns, but my mom’s version was a bit more curried pickled fish than the usual pickled fish - she gave it a nice bite).


My contribution years later would be crumbed salmon fish cakes made with mash potato. These days tinned middle cut does the trick, but sadly this too was sold out when I looked out for it on the weekend. The tinned salmon going for R99 a tin.


As the families, cousins and friends gathered, the table would be heavy laden with fish and seafood creations, each aunt bringing their famous or familiar Good Friday dish. The paella aunty, the quiche aunty, the pickled fish aunties, the home-made hot cross buns aunty, the tuna-and-rice aunty, the visfrikkadel aunty, the fried fish aunty, the viskop aunty, the prawn and shrimp aunty, the snoek aunty, the seafood mix aunty, and so on.


And baked treats for tea afterwards. Just before afternoon tea on Good Friday, the Easter eggs would be handed out and a sugar rush bar none would commence amongst us kids. Marshmallows, hollow eggs, Easter bunnies, baskets, strips of mellow eggs, cakes, tarts!


Nee wat. I had no choice but to honour traditions and heritage. Pickle your fish. Bak daai vis, girl! My godmother would always save me a Tupperware of her signature pickled fish, she ensured that I had my barakat every year, since mom’s was curried fish and hers the more traditional pickle, I had the best of both worlds all to myself.  She would whisper in my ear, “Sit dit weg, moet vi niemand sê nie! Pas op virrie grate!” giving me a loving wink and nod.  It was our “secret”.


My godmother passed away a few years ago. My mom no longer cooks. I mainly offer and opt to relieve her at almost 80 years old and after so many years of non-stop cooking and baking for her family, it’s the least I can do. She was a warrior in the kitchen, Wakanda-style.


So tonight, with tears welling up as I sliced too many onions to mention, I remember the moms, aunts and grandmas that taught us the beauty and art of cooking, traditions, instilling in us a love for culinary creations that stand the test of time, rich, aromatic mesmerizing food memories that no R99 tub can ever replace!


Cheers to our culinary heroes and role models. This bowl of pickled fish is a bowl of precious and priceless memories to me.

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