It was not so long ago that we celebrated National Heritage Day (24 September), a public holiday in South Africa. The day is set aside for all South Africans to celebrate our rich heritage. Through various initiatives the day has been unofficially coined as National Braai Day.
The day is likened, by some, to the annual celebrations cherished by other leading nations of the world; Thanksgiving Day for Americans, St Patrick’s Day for the Irish, Bastille Day for the French and Australia Day for Australians. However turkey, kangaroo and stews are not on the menu of South African braai masters, although stews known as potjiekos are cooked in a three-legged cast iron pot or flat bottom pot on the stove and are very popular with most South Africans.
Potjiekos is a traditional Afrikaner dish hailing from South Africa. It originated with the Voortrekkers in the 1800s and is still widely prepared and enjoyed in South Africa today. It is a simple dish, easy to prepare, with few ‘rules’ but hundreds of variations. When done properly a potjie needs little to no supervision and practically prepares itself. It thus allows you time to enjoy the company of your friends and family while preparing the meal. Potjiekos translated would mean ‘Little Pot’ (potjie) ‘Food’ (kos) and although it resembles a stew it is not a stew and is not prepared like a stew.
A potjie – traditionally a three legged cast iron pot but frequently a flat bottomed one too – is manufactured of cast iron. A heavy lid is needed to create a slight pressure cooker effect inside the pot but you could actually use a normal pot as well. These pots become like a spouse, and sometimes more important, to many South African men and should last a lifetime.
It was therefore distressing to receive the following message via the Castings SA website.
“I bought a Bestduty Super Potjie with a number underneath 12/7428. The potjie is still in its original bag and over the years it has never shown any signs of rust, even taking into consideration that I live next to the sea in Mossel Bay. I have used the Potjie only on the stove, for about 50 times, with great pleasure and outstanding meals. Today the potjie cracked and this was like a death in the family. The best kitchen item I have bought in my life shows a crack of about 50% of the length of the potjie. Please advise if my potjie can be repaired. I cannot cook without this valuable potjie.”
What do you advise the guy? This is what I wrote: I have asked around about this problem of yours and the best solution for you unfortunately is going to be that you buy a new potjie. By the time you get welding rods, get it welded, heat treated etc you would have spent three times the amount of a new one.
Unfortunately the company/foundry that was making these pots is in business rescue and not likely to come out of it as all their equipment has been sold. The antiquated equipment was part of the problem.