I had the pleasure of learning about the Cape Malay culture on the 14th. Many tourists recognize these people for there beautifully painted houses. However most people do not understand why they appear so brightly colored. As we toured through the town we learned that these vivid colors were selected as a way of celebration. Right before Christmas, Eid, or a wedding is to take place, the family will go out and buy paint to ready the house. All of the houses used to be just white but once colored painted was created, the Cape Malay people saw this as an opportunity to make their culture stand out to all of the rest. Families would save up their money to be able to paint their home in any color that they fancied. Right before the two holidays or a wedding, the men would go out and touch up their home with a fresh coat of paint or just touch up the trim. The entire tradition was most important when it came to weddings. In Cape Malay culture, the grooms home is to be made clean and have a brides room prepared inside of it, where the couple will live after getting married. This room is one of pride and all of the families and neighbors would come to see how it was decorated and displayed. To make it simple for finding whose home was preparing for a wedding, the outside would be freshly painted.
After we had toured their town, we were invited to learn how to learn to cook their food. Food shares a lot about a persons culture by telling a story about who they are and what makes them unique. The Cape Malay people treat everyone in their community as family and every event and celebration is brought together with food. All of the women make the food and bond together while preparing it. Their food also tells a story of where they came from because most of these people, long ago, had been brought over from Indonesia, other parts of Africa, and Malaysia. Recipes and traditions came with these people and over time mixed into the culture that now lives there today. Through food, the women found a way to bound and get through hard times. If someone passed away, all of the women would get together and make food to be able to talk through all of the pain but also to celebrate their life. These women would also teach one another and allow for their children to learn from one another, despite their differences. The women of Bo-kaap have also used their skills of making food to sell out of their homes for extra money. Some women will sell rolls, others will sell chicken or sweets, and this all helps their families.
We learned how to prepare samosas, chicken curry, chili bites, falooda, flat bread, and tomato and onion sambal. All of the same spices are used throughout each of these dishes to make each one pair well with the other. This also allows for the palate to enjoy the seasons and not be overwhelmed by too many different flavors. We used masala, fennel, chili powder, cumin, and coriander.
I love cooking with my family at home and cooking with these amazing women made me think of that. This is a way of bounding that allows for people to also try new things and explore new flavors. I had a wonderful time getting to know the stories of Bo-Kaap and the flavors that are also associated with it.