JANUARY 15TH 2014 – BY NOW SUMMER WAS IN FULL SWING. The sun blazed down, streaming through the tattered holes in my straw hat. Dappled light sparkled on my face like shimmering glints of sunlight on a river surface. At a glance you might have thought I’d picked up some 14th Century pox from medieval England.

In fact, I would say, I had a flushed look of indulgent contentment. My memory bank was still filled with the beguiling pleasures of Melanzane cooked in the pizza oven a few days earlier. The Namibian woody flavours added another layer to savour.

On the granite counter-top, glossy black brinjals freshly picked that morning lay sliced and dabbed with salt in the late morning bespeckled light. Juicy deep-red Roma tomatoes bubbled lazily, slowly shedding the moisture away that would eventually reveal a thick flavoursome sauce. Handfuls of fresh basil, recently chilled in fresh fynbos water sat all spruced-up, waiting. Thick blankets of sliced Mozzarella and layers of grated Grano Padano parmesan cheese, all artfully prepared by our friend Charles Gallacher in the traditions of a wise rosy-faced Italian Mama. We watched him spend a good four hours diligently preparing the ingredients.


Now you might ask why take so long? Let’s say the distractions of the local grapes were at fault. We were all easily side-tracked by several glasses of delicious Elgin Valley wine. From then on the conversations that spilled out, eclectically moved from one topic to another – which got more oblique at each mouthful. But I have to seriously say, this is the best Melanzane I have ever had. My apologies to The River Cafe in London and other great food establishments. Ditch the conventional oven and use a wood-burning one.

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That day the temperature was up in the mid forties. It was the kind of weather we Elginites take for granted but British tourists talk about for years. The lake water was warm. The cool morning blue surface has been replaced by approachable yellow hues. The escalating incalescence made me want to skinny-dip. Yes, yes, yes, woofed the dogs who promptly dived in from the jetty.

Cicadas chirped in the sweltering heat – this encourages their sexual activity, culminating in death by orgasm. Yes, it is sad. Cicadas live for one hour above ground after hibernating, and in some cases seventeen years underground. In those sixty minutes they have to find their paramour to carry their genes into the next generation. If he takes fifty-nine minutes to find his true love – then he’s has one minute. That’s it. A one-minute stand. THE END. Now you are thinking what can I do in a minute – NOTHING!! All you’ll get is a slap in the face for trying.


Suddenly the tranquility that surrounds Tangleberry Cottage was briefly shattered. I wrenched my head upwards. A swarm of bees buzzed overhead, momentarily blackening the blue sky – no doubt angry about the hot weather or maybe a passing farmhand stealing their golden nectar. The sensible ones were buzzing drunkenly, busy plundering the bloom on the carpet of nectarous flowers that spread around the banks of Tangleberry Lake in front of me. The countryside was in blossom. Had spring decided to pay another visit?


Scents of lavender infused with the warm air. Wisterias climbed undignified up Acacias, enveloping them in a mass of rippling purple. The rich brown earth pushed yellow and red and pink proteas up. Now they sparkle like apple-sized jewels in the long dark green wild grass bristling under the sun.

Thoughts of, ‘let me get out of this horrid heat and into a chilled bottle of chardonnay’ kept slipping through my mind like a persistent ticker-tape announcing the winners of the Michelangelo awards. Instead I chose to have a chilled pomegranate smoothie. The fruit was picked a few weeks earlier – our first crop. It had lain there maturing, waiting to reach the right sweetness. And besides, the Chardonnay can wait for lunch which might come earlier than expected. The tomato sauce was busy sending whiffs of its aroma mixed with basil and Caciocavallo cheese.


A heat haze had settled above Tangleberry Lake, hovering like an Arabian magic carpet. This thick film of heat rose up the hillside overlooking the cottage and up towards the chattering apple-pickers on the crest. This encouraged the fragrances in the valley to swell and burst their aromatic juices into the warm hazy air. Little tiny bubbles everywhere. My nose was startled, flaring like a blaring trombone – sneezing immediately. Within nano-seconds curiosity got the better of me and I started to browse through the fragrant mist, my schnoz acting like a mine-sweeper. With eyes half-closed my nostrils quivered. Confusion of mingled aromas was my only explanation. Scents of pine, eucalyptus and citrus and on the edges, something else. I found myself drawn towards its particularly assertive bouquet – Ah! It had the intensity of spring onion.


I was in a lyrical mood and for some inexplicable reason Chopin, Nocturne in E flat major, op. 9 no 2 was playing between my ears. This lyrical moment in my life probably had something to do with what lay ahead. It was time to harvest the garlic. Then the penny dropped – the aromas of spring onion . . . Ah! The garlic.

Harvesting garlic is a mundane job and any assistance to the mental processes alleviates the monotonous boredom of pulling garlic bulbs out of the earth.

The water supply that been nurturing the alliums had been turned off six weeks ago. The last 42 days were a critical period in the garlic’s life. The water starvation forces the allium into action, like a newborn baby who immediately wants to drain the life out of mummy’s boobies. So does the garlic baby-bulb – gobble, gobble, gobble! Even after seven months of feeding, they are still wee lads. And drink they do, extracting every tiny droplet of moisture that surrounds them, draining the landscape, turning the dark moist earth that surrounds them ashen white.


So greedy are some, that their siblings immediately surrounding them, are stunted; never to develop that sensuous juicy Botticelli derrière that gourmand’s so love. The weak shall certainly inherit the earth, turning into compost in the weeks that follow. The ones that survive, are pigmy-like, little midgets, best squashed and bunged into a lovely casserole, bouillabaisse or twirled and tossed with olive oil, sage and butter amongst delicious roasting potatoes or freshly made gnocchi.

But, alas with a fallen tear, the Elgin soil is not ideal for garlic. It’s too thick, too much clay, not sandy enough like the Klein Karoo or further north towards the Limpopo where they thrive.

We had a fair crop this year of over 250 bulbs – enough for personal consumption . . . for a short while. The garlic bottoms were small in size, but intense in flavour – enough to give your tongue a fright and make your eyes water. Once bitten you’ll be smitten and immediately start bawling like a baby.

I offered two die-hard chili fans – Hoosen and Jocelyn who shared a lovely weekend with us to take a nip. Being devotees of Indian cuisine this should not have posed much of a problem for them. With bravado draped over their faces, and confidence oozing, (and believe me they have no fear), they bit into the garlic’s juicy flesh and spontaneously jumped back like two surprised rabbits, “Whoa . . that’s got some bite, Michael”, they blurted in unison.


Garlic is certainly a mainstay in my life – a ‘tour de force’ the French would say. Garlic is a chef-d’oeuvre, a masterpiece of nature. I have endless memories of this shining orb that glows in my life.

It all started with eating cultivated garden snails. One of my early recollections of scoffing these delicious gastropods was as a young man living in London, in the late 1960s. It was an era of French bistros and for course, the Beetles, the Rolling Stones and smoking spliffs. The Brits had taken the courageous plunge of adding these delicious single muscular-foot morsels to their limited eating repertoire of fish and chips, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Curry munching was also getting popular as Indian restaurants were starting to spread on the high streets.

I diligently wandered from one candle-lit bistro to another catching the most intoxicating whiffs of sizzling garlic butter laced with onions and the light savoury fragrances of cooked snail flesh. I enjoyed many meals of Escargots à la Bourguignonne with lots of crusty French baguettes in buttery juices. When unemployment beckoned, the dole contributions limited my indulgences. Then it was home cooking with Robert Carrier and tinned snails from Safeways. Most of the bistros were situated French style in the dungeons of an old Georgian or Victorian house in Earls Court or Kensington.

A friend, a Parienne, Martine Trouguboff while au-pair-ing in Hampstead introduced me into the art of making garlic butter for snails. There are many fine recipes for garlic butter. The one I like has an astonishing amount of garlic, and enough butter to sculpt an Elgin Valley mountain. I find it’s best to make as much as your fridge can hold. I use this most garlicky of butters recipe for any number of dishes, not just snails. Like melting a large dollop or three over freshly grilled fish or steak. I like to roll it into a sausage shape, or round balls wrapped in baking paper and placed in the fridge. As for the snails they are generally cooked the same way – pan-fried in butter, onions and white wine.

Frying garlic is without doubt one of those fragrances that makes you want to eat instantly, rather like grilling bacon, frying onions or baking a chocolate cake in the oven. The intoxicating aroma of garlic cooking in butter, is a salivating experience.


Sage, our Heinz 57 rescue variety dog watches me. She is also licking her lips watching me with her Joan Crawford sultry Turkish eyes. But then she is always hungry. Discovered on the streets of Langa and looking like a stick insect, she was saved by African Tales from further misery. Then moved from foster mother to foster mother. This brought out several insecurities. We were told she was no oil painting. But she is. She has so much love to give – always wanting a cuddle. And when she stretches, she parades her long languid body like a tart on the Hamburg Reeperbahn.

Sage loves her beauty sleep and snores like a bergie under Muizenberg bridge. When she sleeps, I quietly say “Food”, and her eyes immediately pop open. Then she gives me that panting hungry dog look, “Ok you’ve woken me up . . . now where’s my food?”

I have other practical uses for garlic. Crushed into pulp with chilli and mixed with water and fine ground black, or white pepper, then left to brew for a week or two. This concoction wards of aphids and caterpillars. Even porcupines, I came to discover one morning. A third of the carrot patch that had not been sprayed was now all gone, the earth in total disarray; so was the wooden handle of a garden broom carelessly left there. Porcupines have a liking for salt and with sweaty palms constantly feeding the wood, the salt gets truly imbedded.

I haven’t tested my muti out on venomous snakes – luckily – I haven’t met or seen any around here. Pieter du Toit, my friendly neighbour assures me most of Lucifer’s friends live in the nature reserve, driven away by harsh discordance of farm sounds: a cacophony of farmhand cackles, hoots, screeches, yelps and the droning of tractor engines.

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My repellent brew protects most of the fruit trees and vegetables from these invasive greedy bugs. However it doesn’t affect the greedy garden snail that ravishes anything vaguely green. I have sprayed them, and even soaked them with this legal concoction, and the intrepid gastropod marches on.

When the wet winter arrives they take their single muscular foot and trudge off to find some dark, dank place. Then hibernate and breed. And being hermaphrodites, then she (or just as often he) have the remarkable and useful ability to just pop out babies by the dozen. If they get bored being female then the solution is simple. They become males and go in search of female snail pheromones. They can switch backwards and forwards as they chose. Imagine if we human beings could be like that, “Sorry darling I’m bored having babies . . . now it’s your turn? Or “I’m fed up with always being on top sweet pea . . .”

A good friend suggested breeding them, then exporting them. Now just imagine a jail-break. Nothing would survive. The local farmers would come down on me like the Klux Klux Clan and I’d get lynched on the nearest apple tree.


Consider this moment.

One thunderous winter’s evening when the heavens were pounding the cottage roof I diligently nursed our three pooches, Tyson, Sage and Zeus. They were quivering with fright from the exploding bolts of lightning that crossed the dark Elgin skies, praying for the rain to ease up. When the deluge stopped, I opened the doors to let the pooches out to do their business. And of course to do what pooches like doing – like sticking their noses in dank smelly places, sniffing for something to growl at or equally meaningful, some morsel to chomp on, usually an old bone buried in a secret hiding place – God forbid another dog should find it.

As the dogs charged across the verandah I heard crunching noises. When I switched on the outside lights to see what was happening – I got a fright. A cavalry charge not to dissimilar of the Fourth Hussars at the battle of Friedland. But instead of flaying golden braids there were hundreds of speeding gastropods travelling at SPODS 4.2 (speeding pods). In snail language that 4 kms per hour. The energetic leaner ones, antennae waving in the wind, scampered a little quicker – SPODS 4.3 at a guess. The ones with the large appetites flagged, sweating profusely and dragging their limp antennas along. Surrender was a few centimetres away and possibly death by gluttonous excess.

The gastropods were all heading towards the vegetables – no doubt seduced by the intoxicating whiff of buttery lettuces and the savoury scents of bok choy and pak choy. Even the copper electric fences I had ringed around each vegetable, would not have stopped these kamikaze gastropods hellbent on gobbling my herbaceous patch.

Morning would have arrived and before my first yawn was out, my eyes would have been agog. Spinach leaves shredded down to their stumps. Fully grown lettuces munched on and now resembling a war-torn battlefield. And scattered amongst the debris, chubby fat gastropods comatose from over-indulgence, all dreaming about gorging on my next crop.

My immediate reaction was to stomp on them. Then my heart said NO Michael. But my stomach said YES Michael. I scooped them up with the help of the soft cottage broom and put them in a bucket to breed like rabbits. I was going to clean them up and enjoy Escargots à la Bourguignonne.


I live in the greenest of valleys. How green? Ask any greedy gastropod? They love everything green. There are times when the veggie garden looks like the aftermath of a great 18th Century Napoleonic battle. Last week they gobbled all the baby leaves of the Sweet Peas then turned their attention to my fresh artichoke crop. I looked to see if Oliver had surrounded each plant with copper wiring, only to discover that he had not.



Word has spread that the Elgin Valley is the greenest of all valleys in South Africa. I’m convinced these molluscs have left the arid plains of Africa and moved down into the bosom of our valley. There are thousands of them. So personal they’ve been in my life I have given them names.

In winter and autumn I call them Jonah. In spring and summer when they are breeding, I call them Lola. They are much more visible in winter, wandering around aimlessly gobbling veggies, waiting for spring to arrive. Then it’s nooky time.

Occasionally I see them climbing up the green shutter doors, then I say to them, “Where are you going Jonah? The veggie garden is over there. On second thoughts I don’t want you to go there and eat my veggies. I want you to go and eat my moaning neighbours. The Millsap’s veggies.

Then I point them in the right direction, “Over there where the sun sets. The owners have a lovely garden for you to nibble on”.

In spring, when I see a gastropod on her own, I say, “Hey Lola! Are you lost? Looking for a mate? Let me help you young lady”. I then promptly pick her up and take her to the lake’s embankment and plonk her down. And if the moaning neighbours have had another whine, they get plonked on the side of the road that leads to their house. I know it’s really silly talking to them since they can’t hear me – they’re all deaf. They have no ears.

Garden snails have become very popular in the UK especially amongst adventurous bon vivants. If you are serious about preparing your own garden snails for the pot, just place a few empty buckets, hole side down in a murky wet patch, somewhere in your garden. In no time you’ll be able to share your Escargots à la Bourguignonne with your friends. Watch this breeding and cooking lesson from Gordon Ramsey. I have to admit that the moving snails look really appetising –

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In Africa we have far more adventurous bon vivants than in Europe. I’m not brave enough to say bolder than the rest of the world, as we know the Chinese have gone where no man or woman have ventured in the culinary landscapes. Seahorse, Dung beetles, Silkworms, Scorpions, Grasshoppers, all skewered and deep-fried. I won’t go any further as you might just decide to terminate your reading here.

I say this because in my adventures and in particular when I was working on my photographic exhibition ‘Shadows over Stones’, I came across African land snails in Phaborwa, Limpopo matching the Jolly Green giant’s shoe size. Big Jonahs and Lolas —


While waiting many hours for the picture to compose itself, I’ve seen these intrepid gastropods pass me by. Crawl over my takkies and even stop, lifting their two sets of horns, the upper set equipped with eyes, the lower with a sense of smell and giving me the once over. My manly smells, thank goodness aren’t delicious enough to seduce their tastebuds.

Not only are the Giant African snails imposing but they are a lot quicker than their garden variety cousins, who only manage a paltry four meters per hour, and only when in a prime fit, Usain Bolt condition.

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Scoffing giant size morsels of food is not just for the human population in Phalaborwa. One of my guides, Hilton Bezuidenhout is the town’s snake catcher – in fact a catcher of anything wild. His back bumper sticker states in big lettering, “I BRAKE FOR SNAKES”. And we certainly did – for 4-meter Black Mamba crossing the road ten minutes later. On stopping, the excitement in his voice was not to dissimilar to my son Francesco, aged five on seeing his first pet rabbit.

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While on a recce in the bush Hilton suddenly disappeared into a crumbling old building. Minutes later he came out with a plump Boomslang, light green with black scales, and in the middle of a meal. The reptiles lunch was firmly settled in the middle of its 2-meter length body. Hilton has had to deal with such challenges as prising a neighbours dog from the jaws of a 7-meter African Python – a common day occurrence in Phalaborwa. Saving a litter of baby warthogs from drowning. But mostly people have snake problems. The average lifespan of household pets is shorter that most other cities. While trekking around the bush Hilton offered me a teaching lesson in the art of picking up live slithering reptiles by the scruff of its neck. My body instantly went into fear mode. You know that feeling; when sweat starts flowing profusely from your body. I smiled at his considerate offer, but declined. Then added, “I’m a timid scaredy cat from the city Hilton, I’m not butch like you”. He seemed disappointed, but was soon smiling when the next Black Mamba crossed the road.

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Scents abound throughout the day in the Limpopo province and inevitably trigger thoughts of food. Sweet syrupy fragrances of the Marula tree mix with the lemon smells of crushed Baobab seeds, baked into lemony biscuits by the local Venda inhabitants.

Take another deep breath and you’ll discover milky sandalwood odors mingling with honeyed jasmine, coriander and sweet oranges of the False Acacia. Fragrances of dark chocolate, garlic and baked potato drift through thorn trees and the undergrowth where the potato bush thrives, spreading like escaping tryfids wild along the Limpopo River. The warm winds carry the fragrances, blowing the butterfly-shaped leaves of the Mopane tree high up into the air, fluttering everywhere. When the sun sets, the cool air chills the scents.

By 6pm supper approaches and the perfume in the air changes. Sautéed peanuts in oil, spiced up Morogo vegetables and fried sweet onions linger in the bush that surrounds Phalaborwa. I recently discovered Madumbis. Mashed, spiced and deep-fried or French roasted with olive oil, garlic and crumbed Parmesan. But my favourite is baked as a tart. And who doesn’t love a tart?


On one of my photographic trips to Phalaborwa I stayed with my friend, Esther who acted as my guide around the rocky terrain. Hundreds of Koppies dot the landscape, that also provide a great deal of wealth to rich mining companies. And sadly, every year the dots get less.

Esther is steeped in Afrikaans reserve on the outside, but modern day lady inside. Unlike me she has no fear for the odd Black Mamba or African python parked in her driveway.

Late one afternoon just as we had started our second bottle of chilled Sauvignon Blanc, (it was an oppressively hot day, the temperature was almost 55 degrees centigrade), I blurted out that I was a very adventurous eater and had no problems eating anything.

Esther looked at me sceptically – there was a wicked glint in her eyes. I immediately regretted my bravado: her raised eyebrows suggested I was about to be challenged. In that moment of uncertainty, with twinges of anxiety rippling away in the gut of my stomach, Maria her housekeeper walked into the kitchen with her arms wrapped around a large closed khaki cardboard box.

Maria put the carton down on a table with a bit of a thump and went about the business of preparing a meal which started with a large 25-litre stockpot filled with water. After that she washed and cleaned various vegetables (some quite strange-looking but now quite popular in posh supermarkets) for what I presumed would be a vegetable broth. Occasionally the cardboard box bounced up and down. I was naturally curious.

I looked at Esther quizzically, who was now speaking to Maria in Afrikaans, a language I have sadly not mastered, and at that moment I wish I had, as I felt like a deaf fly on the wall. I watched them mutter in close conversation. I felt uneasy as they both giggled, glancing at me occasionally.

Then with a droll smile Esther spoke.

“Maria has invited us to join her, her husband and family for their evening meal.

Now it was my turn to raise my eyebrows, curious as to what was on the menu.

“Would you like to see what Maria is preparing?” Esther asked. That challenging smile was back.

“Off course!” I blurted with enthusiasm but with a lump in my throat.

The cardboard box cover was removed to reveal a large bemused African Bullfrog and equally six large African land snails, all entangled in a loving embrace.

A dramatic pause followed.

I stood there well aware they were watching me. I have eaten sheep brains and a variety of offal, usually in a cooked form. But was I up to eating something that was alive and full of zest right in front of me? The slimy green bullfrog with lumpy warts looked at me. He seemed perplexed, probably wondering what he was doing in the company of giant slugs.

Slimy green is not the most appetising colour, I thought. And as for the giant snail with its slippery grey rubber-like flesh, well there was no need for a magnifying glass. This was like sitting in the front seat of a movie theatre watching a David Attenborough film on the eating habits of the African thief ant shot on a Panavision camera. I could see the creature was sweating profusely. Its tentacle-waving antennas were wigwagging with excitement as it attempted to mount the bullfrog.

With a large gulp in my throat and filled with mixed emotions, I spoke,

“They look very interesting . . .” (silence)

Esther looked at me questioningly. There was a smug look on her face.

I felt a flicker of insecurity behind my eyelids . . . but I was slowly warming to the idea, like a dollop of ice-cold butter in a hot pan.

“. . . yes why don’t we join Maria and her family for supper”, I finally said, rather bravely I thought.

I watched while Maria prepared the meal that I will not describe for the queezy or the anti-cruelty folk. However if you are brave enough, then please watch this Tim Haywood video – As for what they tasted like. Well the bullfrog tasted like chicken and the snail, well . . . not unlike his smaller sibling. I made a multi-flavoured hot sauce of olive oil, chillies, garlic, ginger and loads of fresh coriander all blended, which made the giant gastropod really enjoyable. Esther did not take part in the delicious dish, preferring a simple salad. She explained that she had a sensitive colon . . . ahhh!

I’m told by ‘The Domestic Godless’ that if you feed the giant gastropod first with sugared almonds for a few weeks, the meat takes on a sweet flavour similar to marzipan . . . now that’s worth a try –

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There are many distractions to growing the perfect Botticelli garlic orb or hunting for gastropods. Some distractions are not so nice. Like fixing something that was supposed to have been fixed. Building is a challenge and it’s no different in the Elgin Valley.

I soon came to realise that I needed a degree in psychology. I had to learn how to see through the gold-tooth smiles that sparkled in the light, who promised a perfect job and on time. And since my knowledge is limited, I’m an easy touch. I know cement, sand and stone make concrete, but after that I might as well get into a conversation with a mathematician on quantum physics. I suppose it’s a bit like fighting in trench warfare. Only trouble is, I am blindfolded and have to figure out who the enemy is.

They all promised everything and chop, chop. Some arrived with assault troops amongst the clatter of loose vehicle parts, and plumes of blue smoke trailing behind them from their backfiring bakkies. Others turned up with throbbing Toyota Hilux engines.

As the boss-men held their hands out to give my metatarsals a good crunch, the fragrances in the air changed. They varied from pungent earth, to unexpected whiffs of palmolive soap mingled with Dove aftershave, and in some cases Savon de Marseille mixed with Hugo Boss – appropriate bouquet they probably thought, for their station in life.

At this point I’d like to say builders like creating a mess. I’d go even further and say they love mud, dirt and dust. If they can’t end their day covered in muck, looking like the boogeyman from the municipal rubbish heap, then for them, that is not a good day of work done.

Now with all this experience I was getting I was feeling confident. In fact I’d go one step further and say, I felt, fearless. I was ready for bigger challenges. What I had in mind was a small retaining wall.


When rain arrives in the Elgin valley it comes down prolifically, sometimes for days. Big fat drops of rain that sluice through apple orchards and vineyards, cascading down hills, flattening shrubs and turning our potato patches into swirling mud and the sludge into torrential brown rivers that carves deep crevices in the earth. The view through the glass windows gets distorted – hills become mountains and trees grow even taller. I needed to stop the driveway and the future manicured lawn from colliding one violent rainy, winter’s thunderstorm day. Our other driveway had already been sludged over twice from cascading wet mud.

Now this is a small job that grew into a big job. My fearlessness was now layered with a bit of lunacy. Bonnie likes to call it ‘Michael’s folly’. She suggested: “There is well over a thousand cubic meters of beautiful Cape White sandstone piled high in various places on the farm. So why not build a retaining wall? It would make a lovely feature”. I agreed. But where do I find a stonemason without the golden glint in his eyes?

TO BE CONTINUED . . . . SOON . . . .


If you love food and stories, why not connect with Gwynne Conlyn, it’s really fun –


I don’t like pips whether fully grown or crushed – they add a bitterness to the flavour and a layer of tackiness on my tongue. So I use either a mouli or a juice extractor to take out the seeds. I prefer a mouli as the juice extractor does extract some of the bitterness from the seeds. Simply blend all ingredients together.



10 cloves of garlic finely chopped
3 x 400g of chopped Italian tomatoes
50 g of fresh basil leaves
300g of Mozzarella cheese
130g of Grana Padano parmesan
Flour for dusting
Olive oil

Cut melanzane in 5mm thick slices
Lay them out and sprinkle with salt. Leave for 30 minutes.
2 glugs of olive oil into your frying pan. Bring to heat and chopped garlic. As soon as you can smell the garlic add 3 tins of tomato.
Simmer into a thick sauce.
After 15 minutes add half the shredded basil leaves.
Wash salt of the Melanzane and dry.
Dust with flour on both sides.
Add another couple of glugs of olive oil to another frying pan and fry the Melanzane in batches to a golden colour. Place onto paper towel.
Lay a thin layers of tomato sauce. Then one layer of Melanzane. Top that with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Top that with Mozzarella. Then a sprinkling of Parmesan. Then another layer of Melanzane. Another layer of tomato sauce. The rest of the fresh basil leaves. A layer of Mozzarella. Sprinkling of parmesan. Another layer of Mozzarella. Final layer of tomato sauce. Final layer of Mozzarella and a healthy covering of parmesan.
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Their hairy bodies are definitely scary to look at. But prevail, as they are absolutely delicious with a sweet savoury flavour. I looked up recipes but not too many are listed on the internet. Most of them are roasted. I tried a few experiments. Being fibrous, its not a good idea to deep-fry mashed balls as they disintegrate, even with egg as a binding agent.

The recipe below came about by accident. While watching Bonnie bake I thought, why not tarts. They make a great accompaniment to steak, chicken, and fish. I’m planning on trying to bake them as pies. But will keep in touch if successful. They also freeze really well. I place them in cling wrap and keep them until needed. Also the nasturtium seeds are great. The have a peppery flavour with a Wasabi kick.


750 g of steamed Madumbis peeled and steamed
300ml of full cream yoghurt
100 g of coarsely chopped mushrooms of your choice pan-fried in butter
80 g of chopped fresh coriander
40 g of sage thinly sliced
100 g of butter
100 g of grated parmesan
50 g of nasturtian seeds chopped or capers
1 Chilli if you wish
1 Tbs of ground cumin
1/2 tbs
salt and pepper to your liking.
8 tartlet tins with removable base

Turn oven on and set at 180c. Mash steamed madumbis with butter. Then add the yoghurt and once all mashed add the rest on the ingredients. Place in tartlet tins with removable base. Place in a baking tray and put into the oven. Take our after the top is a golden brown and leave to cool. Once cool remove Madumbi tartlets and serve.



1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp minced shallot
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Purée all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Roll into small balls and wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate until needed.

ESCARGOT A LA BOURGUIGNONNE (Snails in Garlic–Herb Butter)

16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp. white wine
1 tsp. cognac or brandy
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and nutmeg, to taste
24 extra-large snail shells
24 canned extra-large snails
Rock salt
Country bread, for serving

1. In a bowl, whisk together butter, parsley, wine, cognac, garlic, and shallots with a fork. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to let the flavours mould

2. Heat oven to 400°. Spoon about ½ tsp. of butter mixture into each snail shell. Push a snail into each shell. Fill shells with remaining butter mixture. Cover bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with a layer of rock salt. Arrange snail shells butter side up on bed of salt and bake until butter sizzles, 10–12 minutes. Serve snails on a platter, with bread to soak up the butter, if you like.