Showers Of Rose Petals

MOVEABLE FEAST Marino Corazza

I WAS not blessed with a sweet tooth. While others drool over birthday cakes, going gaga about upping their sugar levels, I’m thinking about moist biltong, won-ton and oysters. A fat slab of any kind of cake just leaves me cold — even more so when the munchers say: “Oooh, I feel so guilty!”

But there are some sweets I’m fond of, and they’re the ones from the Middle East, the goodies the Greeks serve for tea, the Sephardim after dinner, the Turkish with coffee and the Lebanese for collective gatherings. Somehow they’re all interrelated. Call it family food.

I’m partial to them for four reasons. Firstly, they are all made in bite sizes so the volume is not so daunting. Secondly, they are not sickly sweet, rather emphasising natural flavours. Thirdly, they’re not greasy and are very pleasing to the eye. Fourthly, they conjure up for me a picture of an oasis, of parking off on a Persian rug, shaded by palm trees, beside a tiny running stream, eating dates and halva and drinking cool sweet water until this gorgeous apparition, wearing a yashmak, with fire in her eyes and a diamond in her bellybutton, materialises and asks to be taken to the casbah.


On your camel, Lawrence, and back to Jo’burg — to Norwood, to be more specific. Diagonally opposite Ziggies is the Cedar Confectionery. It’s not very welcoming but Aladdin’s cave probably wasn’t either. Once in, the treasures that count are all there, displayed in huge shallow brass trays of great diameter.

A very mild and pleasant Matthew Abi-Chebli will help you out (his brother Elias is the baker and runs the factory operations in Regents Park). They come from Lebanon and have been in the rainbow country for two years, so with English, some Arabic, a dash of French and a bit of Lebanese we got along just fine. After all, the proof is in the eating.

All the delectables are made with variations of fila. Delicate and crisp, fila is phyllo to the Greeks, jufka to the Turks and malsouka to the Tunisians. Right: first taste was of the borma, a tubular-shaped bird’s nest pastry filled with pistacchio nuts and light syrup. It’s cut into slices like a hefty rissole and has an exquisite, nutty flavour to be savoured more than once. Then came namura, semolina squares steeped in honey and coconut with almond topping, moist and lush and very comforting. This was followed by billorie — pistacchio, walnuts and rose water essence wrapped up in a fragile pastry square. The aroma is out of the Perfumed Garden, the taste filled with fragrance and serenity. There are five types of baklava — konafa or kadaif if you prefer — of different shapes and sizes, all delicious and nutty, my preference being the less sweetish ones.

There’s something about these sweets, once eaten, that generates a feeling of contentment and inner happiness. With that, I bid you a Middle Eastern farewell: “May all of you be showered with a thousand dew-kissed rose petals.”

* Cedar Confectionery: 60 Grant Avenue, Norwood (Tel: 728- 6856). Open seven days a week until 8pm. The patisserie also has a choice of biscuits and petit fours, a selection of fruit-flavoured French gateaux bavarois mousses and Mediterranean-style ice-cream. They also cater for parties and functions.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

2019: The ones who left us

From Uyinene Mrwetyana, Oliver Mtukudzi to Xolani Gwala, Mail & Guardian remembers those who have passed on

More battles ahead for domestic worker unions

Florence Sosiba, speaks to the Mail & Guardian about how important domestic workers are and exclusion in the COIDA

“Life has been good to me, considering where I come from” – Xolani Gwala

Just over a year ago, veteran radio presenter Xolani Gwala’s cancer was in remission. He spoke to the Mail & Guardian once he was back on air.

Kanya Cekeshe’s lawyer appeals decision not to grant him bail to the high court

Kanya Cekeshe’s legal team filed an urgent appeal at the Johannesburg high court on Tuesday against Monday’s judgment by magistrate Theunis Carstens.

Leader’s principal aim to build IFP

Gravitas: Velenkosini Hlabisa brings his experience to his new post as leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party.

Police Minister Bheke Cele addresses Jeppestown

Police minister Bheki Cele visited Jeppestown on Tuesday to speak to business owners and community leaders.
Advertising

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Durban city manager says NPA erred in his bail conditions

The corruption-fraught metro is coming to grips with having a municipal manager who is on bail for graft, yet has returned to work

Why anti-corruption campaigns are bad for democracy

Such campaigns can draw attention to the widespread presence of the very behaviour they are trying to stamp out — and subconsciously encourage people to view it as appropriate

Tax, wage bill, debt, pandemic: Mboweni’s tightrope budget policy statement

The finance minister has to close the jaws of the hippo and he’s likely to do this by tightening the country’s belt, again.

SA justice delays extradition of paedophile to UK

Efforts to bring Lee Nigel Tucker to justice have spanned 16 years and his alleged victims have waited for 30 years
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday