Wednesday 3 May 2023

Biltong! buy me biltong!

♬ ♪ Came to de market before daylight ♫ ♩
Gotta sell me biltong before de night  

At the start of my very expensive education, I was parked in school in the 1960s, at least partly because my father was away at sea for unpredictable periods and we moved houses every 18 months. At least if the school was the same, that provided some continuity and grounding for me. In those days, abandonment, separation anxiety were ignored despite John Bowlby writing about attachment theory and normal development in the 50s!

Another of the detached chaps at my school was the son of a hotel magnate in Kenya. When he returned from the holidays in Nairobi and the beach at Malindi, this fellow often bought several parcels of biltong [beef jerky] to replenish his tuck-box. It was different from the gob-stoppers and sherbet fountains with which the rest of us courted dental caries and was, therefore, tradable. When I final arrived in Africa [teaching a binfo course in Pretoria and Capetown] 35 years later a chew of biltong was on my bucket list.

Accordingly, when TGWIH went up the Okavango last month, more as a quip than a quest, I asked her to bring me back some biltong. But, regrettably, EU food&ag theatre forbids the import of cured meat products from outside the Union. I'll just have to fantasize about giving my gob a braw workout. Interestingly the ToC for Original Sliced Springbok Biltong is, like Nestlé Munchies, engagingly vague about exactly what's in there:

Meat (kudu and/or eland and/or impala and/or gemsbok and/or wildebeest and/or springbok in variable amounts); seasoning [salt, spices (irradiated), cereal (maize, flour, salt), sucrose, acidity regulator (E262), preservative sodium sulphite (E221), MSG flavour enhancer (E621), spice extracts, flavour enhancer (E635)], vinegar, worcestersauce, pimaricin.

Note 1 E635 enhancer is a combo sodium salts of the natural compounds guanosine (E626) and inosine (E630) two of the many bases that are found in nucleic acids. Basically another blast of umami.

Note 2 pimamycin is an anti-fungal agent naturally made by some species of Streptomyces and now produced in vats by BigPharma.

Note 3 surely you don't think I'd be satisfied with anyone using English common names for the various artiodactyls which may finish up in this brand of biltong? Nope! Why not use Phofu for eland as in the Lesotho stamp above? Or Spießbock for gemsbok? Here are they are with full Latin binomers so nobody can mistake what we're talking about.

  • kudu Tragelaphus strepsiceros
  • eland Taurotragus oryx
  • impala Aepyceros melampus
  • gemsbok Oryx gazella
  • wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus and/or C gnou
  • springbok Antidorcas marsupialis

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