So… I haven’t done a review since my return from Hong Kong… shocking I know! But hear me out. If you know me, you’ll know I have a flair for the dramatic. So… if you don’t like dramatic descriptions and exaggerations, look away now (there’s a lovey recipe for carrot cake for you here btw). I have been suffering from a serious bout of culture shock since returning. Yes, you read that right – culture shock. No I don’t consider myself Chinese all of a sudden but I was shocked by the change in food culture.
Food culture shock
For nearly five years I was in the thick of it. About a year after relocating to Hong Kong I was very fortunate to meet the right people at the right time. A very good friend of mine introduced me to the lovely ladies at Sassy Media Group and I finally had the opportunity to do what I was really good at… EAT! I had the chance to review and write about some amazing ( and also some less amazing) restaurants. I went to restaurant openings, sampled cocktails, ate a 7 course meal dedicated to plankton, ate dim sum with a view and had high tea that would make the queen jealous!
In addition to this I did not let working two jobs dissuade me from eating more in my free time as well. I tried to fit in every restaurant, every experience and every flavour I could find. In Hong Kong this is fairly easy, there are an unbelievable amount of restaurants to choose from. Name it, you’ve got it. Authentic Chinese is an obvious one but whether you want Vietnamese, Japanese, Spanish, Italian or even Norwegian food, it’s right there, one 20 minute train ride away. There are full service restaurants, dai pai dong’s and speak-easy’s that are so hidden it took ages to find them. I learnt so much about different cultures, their food, customs and how to be very critical in the way I evaluate what I eat.
Home sweet nope
Eating all these amazing meals however did not dampen my passion for South African food. I missed my moms home cooking every day. I missed going to a proper butchery. I missed a good old fashioned “tuisnywerheid” and I missed…yes I’m going to say it… the Spur! However, 2 months after returning I started to realized that Pretoria was suddenly not as exciting as it was when I left. I didn’t want to only eat in chain restaurants. No one could make dan dan noodles or char siu and no one had ever heard of pho! I was in floored (cue dramatics)!
So I decided that was it. I’m giving up, bye bye Instagram following (I stopped posting completely which wasn’t what the algorithm wanted at all!). Bye bye restaurant reviews and goodbye dedicated blog readers. I mean what was there to post about? I felt very sorry for myself, and decided to just not try that hard. For those of you who do not subscribe to the whole social media thing. It’s actually quite taxing, getting and maintaining real followers, updating blogs and facebook pages, creating content, SEO’s etc. are actually very hard things to do and I just wasn’t sure that it was worth the effort any more.
Then came one Sunday afternoon. My family was looking for a fun day out and dragged me begrudgingly to Braamfontein of all places. My mom was super excited to take me to 44 Stanley As we walked under the trees I felt a sense of ease. This was some place new. It was filled with interesting things and interesting people and even though it was in a familiar place it was stimulating to the senses. There was new flavours to taste, new fabrics to feel, music to listen to on vinyl and interesting people to talk to. There was old books, rich coffee and even ruby chocolate. It was new. I realised that I had completely misjudged South Africa. My focus was completely on what was not here that I had completely missed what was. I made my world so much smaller.
Since then I have been to many an amazing restaurant and I plan on going to a great many more! I am going to keep writing and reviewing and standing on chairs to take pictures of my food while little old ladies clutch their pearls BUT, I am going to do it for me. Not for the sake of gaining 5 more followers on Instagram. Not for the sake of having 2 more bake my brownies. I am going to do it because I love food! I love eating, I love cooking and I love the people you get to meet in this industry. There really is no love sincerer than a love of food. So if you need me to come and try your newest burger, want to tell me your life story or simply want to share a cocktail with a shark in it, get in contact and let’s share our love of food!