Here is a southern African experience with fried dough in three forms. Yummy!
Doughnuts (also called oil balls), braided dough ribbons (known as cook-sisters), and traditional township treats phonetically called ‘fet-cook’ are all fried dough favourites in southern Africa, especially in Namibia and South Africa.
Here too Africans can feel guilty about tantalising their tastebuds and stuffing their mouths and stomachs with relatively unhealthy dough-delights. Forget about health now. It’s all about pleasure here: good, guilty pleasure, dripping sweetly and saucily from the mouth. Be it for breakfast, lunch or supper. As a starter, or part of a main meal. Even dessert. Dough does the deal for any meal.
The doughnut, from an African-laymen point of view, is a familiar concept seen on western movies where police officers have a doughnut or two with coffee before the next big crime call. But the concept did not just freeze on the screen.
The doughnut (or locally known as the oil ball) has found its way to southern Africa too, and can be bought mostly anywhere from a little caravan stall on the sidewalk, or from behind cool glass counters where a variety of doughs are presented. It is the doughnut that sticks out though, and the eye can’t miss it. It is plump and inviting. It has the quality to seduce with its sugar or icing coat, filled with jam. Apricot jam is a huge preference. But even if the jam is missing the doughnut in itself does the trick and does not shame. People have it for breakfast, in-between snacks, lunch-breaks and deserts. And yes, the local police officer will follow western suite.
Then there is the ‘cook sister’, which is a South African term for a delicate and delicious braid of deep-fried dough ribbon saturated in ice-cold sugar-sauce. Kids love it, and it’s a favourite at any tea party. Even the quaint old ladies have to blush when taking a bite, so delicously guilty they feel.
Finally there is the ‘vetkoek’ (which is pronounced fet-cook, which literally means “fat cake” in Dutch-African lingo!) And yes, it is fatty and it makes fat but it is just as fat with pleasure!
It’s a township hit where it is eaten filled with meats, minces and salads. It is a traditional experience; nearly like eating an African Pita, just better.
Which ever way fried dough is eaten, and where ever one is on the planet eating it, it will be a favourite.