I'm a sucker for figures of speech – which is a good thing because the Afrikaans language (which is my mother tongue) is particularly richly endowed with them! One figure of speech that we have in abundance is adjectives in their intensive form – English has a few (snow white, blood red), but Afrikaans has loads! Stroopsoet (syrup-sweet). Seepglad (soap-smooth). Spierwit (muscle-white). Peperduur (pepper-expensive). Splinternuut (splinter-new). Spekvet (bacon-fat). Just listing them makes me smile. I'm sad that way
Then we have idioms that are almost exactly the same in English and Afrikaans:
- Die doodskleed het geen sakke nie (the shroud has no pockets – i.e. you can't take it with you!).
- As die kat weg is, is die muis baas (when the cat's away, the mice will play).
- Die een se dood is die ander se brood (literally, the one's death is the other's bread, i.e. one man's meat is another man's poison).
And lastly we have uniquely Afrikaans idioms – or ones that express the same thing as an English proverb in an entirely different way:
- Haastige hond verbrand sy mond (the impatient dog burns its mouth, i.e. if you are in a rush to eat your food, you'll burn your tongue!)
- Hy moet hare op sy tande he (literally, he must have hairs on his teeth, meaning he must have a lot of patience)
- As die muis dik is, is die meel bitter (literally, when the mouse is full, the flour is bitter, meaning that when you are full, food is no longer tempting)
This last one was particularly apt on Christmas day, when I'd enthusiastically made canapés, a starter, a main course, a dessert, and a cheese course. By the time we got to the cheese course, nobody had the faintest appetite left – these mice were full of paté, gammon and sprouts (not to mention quite a bit of wine…!). So, needless to say, when the cheese course came out sometime during our charades game, not too many people even nibbled. Their loss! The bonus for me was that it meant I was able to have this delightful cheese lunch between Christmas and new year.
The recipe is one I bookmarked over at my friend Nina's site ages ago, with very minor tweaks. I substituted shelled hemp seeds for the black sesame seeds; I used my beloved Tabasco salt for flavour; and she served hers with gorgeous caramelised orange slices as a dessert, but mine went down a treat with fresh goats' cheese and crisp Granny Smith apples. I also think that my old scale was giving up the ghost and weighed the flour out incorrectly as the mixture was way too dry and I had to add water a spoonful at a time to get it to come together (which may explain why the cheesy bits are so visible in my crackers…). Ah well – they tasted fine and it's a good excuse to get a new scale!
CHEESE CRACKERS (makes about 24)
150g mature cheddar, grated
pinch of salt
pinch of per-peri powder (I substituted a large pinch of Lawry's Tabasco salt instead of this and the salt)
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
125g butter, melted
dry seeds for rolling (I used shelled hemp seeds, but sesame or poppy seeds will work well too)
If you have a food processor, place all the ingredients into it and blitz until you have a dough that you can roll and handle. If you don't have a food processor, use the butter softened rather than melted and rub it into the dry ingredients with your fingers until the mixture comes together to form a dough that you can handle. If the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, you may need to add water, a teaspoonful at the time, and mix until the dough comes together.
Form the dough into a long, thick sausage about 25-30cm long and roll the sausage in some dry seeds of your choice. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate or freeze until needed.
Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Bake the crackers on a cookie sheet covered in baking parchment for about 10 minutes or until golden. Serve warm with a cheese of your choice. These crackers will keep for a week or so in an airtight container – if you can resist them for that long!