My big, fat, delicious experience

Bon appetit: A scene from the festival. PIC: MODISA KODIE
Bon appetit: A scene from the festival. PIC: MODISA KODIE

Soul music legend, Chaka Khan was there. Trendy rapper, Cassper Nyovest was there too. And Mmegi Staffer, SHARON MATHALA, was in their midst, rubbing shoulders and learning how to be a ‘foodie’

The annual DStv Delicious International Food and Music Festival took place recently in Johannesburg.  While I am not a ‘foodie’ MultiChoice Botswana saw it fit to invite me to one of Africa’s prime food and music events.

Along with fellow journalists, MultiChoice Botswana officials, and others who included a local chef, drove out to Johannesburg, arriving at our hotel at 3pm.

On the agenda was a festival for the eyes, ears and heart, where our taste buds would be titillated.  Our palates were spoilt for choice and at the end of the day, our blissful spirits were soothed by legends such as Chaka Khan.

Arriving at the event, we immersed ourselves in the throng of food lovers. Only the best was on display, with a variety of food genres and blends, as well as a gourmet food market showcasing new finds in food.

As far as the eye could see, street-chefs, food trucks and new food trends, all available for sampling and enjoyment. How could I not at least try and become a foodie?

One simply could not have only one of anything.  It was a feast for the eyes, the nose and all the senses.  Unlike most local food and drink festivals, the food did not run out and the samples circulated throughout the night.

Culinary celebrities such as MasterChef South Africa judge Pete Goffe-Wood, as well as Food Network stars Jenny Morris, Siba Mtongana and Reza Mahammad, were out to show off their talents.

Local producers also ensured they were not outshined, tempting guests with their homegrown delectables.

On the day though I would have to say the Taco and Paella, appeared to be the most popular and most famous dish on offer.  The spicy dish features the mixed paella consisting of meat, seafood, vegetables, beans and rice, served in the classical Mexican taco.

I tried the Taco and Paella and failed. I accept that. Remember I am still a foodie in training.

Burgers of all shapes and sizes were also common everywhere, apparently also popular with the crowd.

Also extraordinary was the fact that although the Delicious International Food and Music Festival had over 100 restaurants, not all of them were from the brick and mortar backgrounds. Many, in fact, are based in their backyards or caravans.

 Another popular food meal evident from the long queues in the park for was the pap and steak.  I am not sure if this is because as Africans we cannot resist our braai, or because Africans are not adventurous when it comes to their food?

In the midst of the colour and choice, I bumped into a Botswana stall, Sleek Foods, which offers all forms of chillie sauces.  It was fantastic to see a fellow Motswana ‘doing her thing’ and flying the flag high at such a prestigious event.

Within the team I had travelled with was local chef Ncinci, who owns the Kwa Ga Ncinci restaurants in Gaborone.  For her, the trip was an opportunity to peep over the fence.

“I want to check out what I can bring back home.  I want to benchmark.

This is a great opportunity from MultiChoice Botswana and I’m not going to waste it,” she told me.

Ncinci added: “The one thing I realised is other countries love their food.

It is not just about putting food together; it’s about a lifestyle. I am looking forward to local food shows where I too can shine.”

For the ears, DStv and Kaya fm set up two stages whose line-ups were stacked with artists guaranteed to cater for even the rarest tastes.

For the upbeat and contemporary, the Kaya fm stage was the place to be, which was where chart-topping rapper, Cassper Nyovest, was featured, driving fans wild with his hits. His up-coming single “Turn-up Gang” left revellers screaming his name, while his breakthrough hit, “Doc Shebeleza” was as popular as ever, with some even turning it into a sing-a-long.

While the other stage featured a mellower sound, all the performers received loud cheers from the crowd.

Star of the night and belle of this ball, Chaka Khan was naturally the crowd favourite, with the legendary soul musician proving that her four decades and 10 Grammy Awards were no fluke.

Her 45-minute set, in which she serenaded the audience with a series of her classics, evoked strong emotions and nostalgia in many.

I also spotted local Gaborone International Food and Wine Festival organisers Michael Hall and Tshepo Ntshole, as well as local fashion designer Mothusi Lesole. A day well spent in the company of taste, colour and music.

Before we turned back and embarked on the trip  ome, Ncinci became the topic of discussion, for unfortunate reasons.  She contracted food poisoning and spent quite a bit of time in an ambulance.  Eager as she was to benchmark, she had apparently tried a little bit of everything and sadly fallen ill.

“God was trying to speak to me. He was trying to show me something,” she joked, as we prepared to return.

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