Angel’s Hair

Melkkos. Photo: Maroela Media

A Sunday evening call to my father  took an unexpected turn. “I wish I could eat melkkos again,” my father said. “Your grandfather made it. It was delicious.” The longing that colored his voice set me thinking about the foods of yesteryear. And particularly about melkkos, also known as milkfood, boeber or gedatmelk, depending on which cultural grouping one belongs to.

Why do people long for the food of yesteryear? Food writer and restaurateur Peter Veldsman explains, “It’s a nostalgic thing. People long for the past and for days of glory. They search for identity. Milkfood is one of the dishes that are viewed in a romantic light.”

Romance aside, the virginal looking dish had a dirty name. At one time it was called “Slinger-om-die-smoel”, which is as rude as it sounds. It’s also been called other names.

Angel’s hair
The cookbook writer Jannie de Villiers wrote about women in Namakwaland who made strips for their milkfood that were as fine as vermicelli. Angel’s hair … Hm, that’s the one I like. Especially as most of us will only get to see milkfood strips that are the width of tagliatelle in our lifetime.

Tripe trips me up
Another dish that gets people waxing nostalgically is tripe. It’s not my favourite, ye gods. In fact, I loathe it. The last time I encountered it was decades ago. I was standing behind the closed door of our farmhouse kitchen, aghast at the smell that came from it. I never touched tripe and never will, because of that smell. And that’s the thing with foods from yesteryear. They set one thinking. They pack an emotional punch like no modern dish can, and sometimes they’re fabulous to eat and sometimes they’re not. But you know what: they’re unforgettable, which is more than one can say of the food we get served today; food that mostly does not have a smell, and that is as sterile as a hospital.



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