FOOD

If you are a mutton stew aficionado this is the best in the world. It coats your mouth with a thin delicious layer of pure fat. There was a big potjie or pot of afval (offal), with whole sheep’s head. Afval (offal) is a specialty of the area, a culinary trick that requires experience, if it is not to taste like the inside of a hangover. Served with rooster brood, bread made on the fire, singed with black stripes, it is durable and filling. Another specialty of the region is a pofadder, called after the deadly South African snake, approached tentatively by squeamish tourist thinking it is the real thing, made from sheep’s intestine, it is stuffed with heart, lung and kidneys. Pudding is frequently a simple homemade apricot jam and bread. The meal ends with a cup of suringmelk – a celadon coloured concoction with a thick barium-meal consistency made from the yellow flowered oxalis plants and goat’s milk. The cooking is done by the women from the nearby village of Nourivier in a kookskerm which is a hut used as an outdoor kitchen made out of dry, flammable bushes such as the milk bush and kraal bush, the floor smeared with a mixture of dung and clay. There is a clay oven a few metres away for making bread. “We grew up on this food”, says Hanna Witbooi, one of the village women, “every season is different, just depends what is ‘hier rond’ (roundabout). We could go into the velt for a day’s walk and not even take any food with us. Just find it there. Bessies (rhus undulata) are my favourite. they come out around November, at first butter yellow turning slowly to bright red. Oh then they taste so, so sweet.” The whole meal cost R45 a head and for an extra R100 you can stay the night in a small Voortrekker (the original pioneers) wagon or hut made out of reed mats, an experience not for the faint hearted but for seekers of real solitude there is no equivalent in the world. These days the global search is for something new, unsullied, and away from the franchised horizon that has given so many destinations a tiringly familiar iconography, a place that epitomizes the pleasure of simple things. The Restaurant At The End of the World encompasses all these elements with a casualness that in itself is seductive. Lin Sampson

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