A while ago I promised that I was going to venture more into the kind of cooking I grew up with. After years of living abroad, and through Alexander’s encouragement and curiosity, I felt it was time I started enjoying and rediscovering my culinary heritage. In planning meals for our trip to Addo Elephant Park with Alexander’s family we thought that we should prepare some traditional food for our two nights in the park.

Now, before I continue on with the food, a word about Addo. The park was established in 1931, when the elephant population of the region was virtually exterminated. An overzealous major of the time succeeded in killing 120 elephants in 11 months! The park started out small, with only about 15 elephants, but over the years more land was added to the park and animals that have been exterminated in the area were re-introduced- lions, hyenas, eland, buffalo, black rhino and more elephants. During our stay we were lucky enough to see most of these, except for the rhino and eland, on several occasions. The park’s existence and continual growth (it is being expanded to include some coastline soon) is an encouraging sign that the environmental damage past generations inflicted on this planet can and should be rectified.


Back to our meals now. For our first evening we were to have barbecued chicken and braai broodjies (barbecue sandwiches) on the menu, and for the second evening grilled snoek (South African barracuda) and aartappel koekies (potato cakes). Sadly, things did not work out quite as planned. The barbeque fire I made was way too hot and everything ended up slightly charred. I do not barbecue often and when I do I suppose I generally mess it up.

The second evening’s dinner also did not work out as planned because I could not find any fresh snoek in Port Elizabeth (city nearest to Addo) on a Sunday. Which did not make sense to me as it is a coastal city. But we could make the aartappel koekies and at least they came out perfect with a slightly fluffy and crisp potato texture and flavoured with onion and dried herbs.

To make enough potato cakes for 5 you will need:

1 onion, grated

4 potatoes, peeled and grated

100ml all-purpose flour

salt, pepper and other dry herbs to taste

oil for cooking

To make: Squeeze out as much of the potato and onion juices as possible and mix together. Add the flour, salt, pepper and herbs and mix well. Heat a little oil in a pan over medium high heat and spoon tablespoons full of the potato mixture in and flatten them into little cakes. Cook until they are golden brown on both sides. Drain them on paper towels and serve warm, either with some sour cream or jus as is.

aartappel koekies

We served ours with some hake (frozen was all I could get) wrapped in aluminium foil together with some lemon juice, apricot jam, salt and pepper and grilled in the oven. The cheese gets added before serving. It was not snoek exactly, but it worked well enough.