Welcome to Sardines on Toast

“From the slowness of autumn, the West Coast’s decidedly green winter graduates quietly and unannounced. As if overnight, fields and barren dunes – even roadside ditches – transform themselves into lush fields of fragrant edibility. Succulent soutslaai, dune celery, veldkool.

Cravings shift from anything warm and remotely comforting, to all things really rich and slow-cooked, with plenty of wine on the side. And when the first young sprouts of oxalis are spotted in Oep ve Koep’s backyard, it’s a sure sign that the bredie season is upon us. Also wild herb and boerbok-on-the-braai season. Hunting season. Plump mussel and perdevoet season.

As my feet swish through overgrown fields of gousblom and kleinkruid, and I stop sporadically to pick at veldkool stems, I realise that winter must have been a magical, feast-filled time of year for the early beachcombers on the Vredenburg Peninsula. Grateful for the rain, nature provides an abundance of free greens for the winter pot.

In between the spells of wet and cold, winter in the Strandveld always surprises with temperate, crystal clear and sunny days. And then it’s almost as if you can feel the imminence of spring in the veld.”

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Strandveldfood, p131.
<Photo credit: Jac de Villiers>