“Bredies are a combination of meat and vegetables so intimately stewed that the flesh is thoroughly impregnated with the vegetable flavor while the vegetables have benefited from the meat fluids … neither dominates but both combine to make a delectable whole that is a triumph of cooperative achievement…”
Thus writes C Louis Leipoldt (1880 to 1947), a South African poet, medical doctor, dramatist, reporter and food expert. He was, during 1908, the personal physician of the American newspaper magnate, Joseph Pulitzer, aboard Pulitzer’s yacht. How about that?
He wrote about the culture and values of the Cape Malay people, and sang the praises of bredies.
Bredies (stews) were commonplace on the Cape Malay table and the variations today (green bean, tomato, cabbage, pumpkin, and waterblommetjies) are part of the food culture of every South African.. be it made on the stove, in the oven or over coals in a cast iron pot. The name “bredie” is the Afrikaans word for “stew”, but is actually a word of Malaysian origin. This form of cooking was first introduced to the Cape by Malays, who were brought to the Cape Colony in most cases as slaves. The word bredie refers to oriental spinach. (Never knew that…)
Almost every traditional South African cookbook has recipes for bredies. I browsed through some of my cookbooks (above) and took some pictures. Waterblommetjie bredie is so popular that a favorite South Africa singer Anton Goosen paid homage to it by way of a song. Here are some of the lyrics which I translated from Afrikaans. (The Boland is the most beautiful region of the Western Cape Province of South Africa, encompassing the Cape Winelands and the popular area for waterblommetjies).
Listen … I close my eyes and feel the homesickness wash over me in waves when I picture what he’s singing about. My life, my childhood, my family, my mountains and vineyards …
Waterblommetjies uit die boland (Waterblommetjies from the Boland)
Waterblommetjies van die Kaap (Waterblommetjies from the Cape)
Maak die bredie net soos in die wynland (Make the bredies just like they do in the Winelands)
En sê jy is baie lief vir my voor jy gaan slaap (And tell me you love me lots before you go sleep)
Anyway, back to stews… 🙂 My favorite is undoubtedly tomato bredie. Ripe tomatoes, onions, lamb, potatoes, hints of cinnamon and ginger, just a spoonful of apricot jam for a perfect balance… slow slow cooking… what’s not to love? (You can use beef or chicken as well).
Here’s the link to the recipe on my blog : Tomato Bredie