asparagus and oukaas tart



For ten years of my life I lived in an apartment in Arcadia, the unofficial red light district of Pretoria. I loved that apartment more than I have loved most people. So did my mother, who, I suspect, as someone who had never lived alone, loved the idea of what the apartment symbolised – not having to answer to anyone, not having to tend to the needs of a family, the quiet of being the only occupant in the house. Ever since I’ve moved my mother stops at the apartment every three months or so, takes a picture of the building from the car, and texts it to me. Here’s this week’s photograph.




One of the main reasons I loved the apartment was because of its light – it was a sunny, space, always light. This morning I came across photographs I had taken of J, this week three years ago, in the Arcadia apartment. He is working in bed, in the morning light, and there are too many books on the bedside table (a thick Microelectronics book, a copy of Ovid’s Metamorphosis on top of that, the titles of the rest are hidden from view), a stack of journals that belong to both of us, and coffee mugs. On the bed, just beyond his laptop screen is a plate of toasted hot cross buns, this being the Easter I first discovered them, and where we each ate at least two every day. I also took a photograph of my kitchen that morning, just before I carried breakfast to our bed. From this picture I know that we had tea, which means that it must have been getting cooler in Pretoria, as we never had tea in the summer heat. We also somehow had bought asparagus in autumn, from the Boeremark, which probably came from a part of the world where the seasons match what we are used to now, and used it to top a tart. Life, man. It’s bizarre.




I love this tart. We make it with puff pastry, and asparagus, and any type of heady cheese we have around. In this house it is Oukaas, the very, very aged Gouda we buy from a Dutch cheesemaker at the Boeremark whenever we’re in Pretoria (we fly home a couple of kilos twice a year), but Gruyère will work, or a good Parmesan. It makes a decent lunch, with a salad of some kind, but it is really stellar if you serve it to guests as they just arrive at your house, and which is mostly what we do. You know those people who invite you for dinner and don’t give you a single thing to eat for the first two hours of the party, as you slowly get more and more drunk off the wine? Don’t be one of those people.




2 thoughts on “asparagus and oukaas tart

  1. Jou woonstel in Arcadia is een van die plekke wat vir my meer betekenisvol is as baie van die plekke waar ek self gewoon het. Dit was veilig, uitdagend, tergend; maar bowenal ‘n tuiste, ‘n huis. Ek dink ek het meer gesprekke aan jou etenstafel gehad wat my bybly en gevorm het as enige ander tafel. Naweke van kosmaak en gesels en mens-word. En baie kere het ons gewonder: “wanneer gaan ons lewens begin?”, sonder dat ons die besonderheid van die nou kon raaksien of waardeer. Om Micheal Cunningham aan te haal: “It had seemed like the beginning of happiness, and Clarissa is still sometimes shocked, more than thirty years later to realize that it was happiness; that the entire experience lay in a kiss and a walk. The anticipation of dinner and a book. The dinner is by now forgotten; Lessing has been long overshadowed by other writers.”


  2. Jis, hierdie comment het my nou tranerig gehad. Ja. As ek dink aan hoe generally discontent ons was aan daai tafel, breek dit my hart. Want dit was eintlik absoluut life-changing, en ek sê dit nie ligtelik nie.

    Dis ook vir my ironies hoe groot rol blogging gespeel het in die totstandkoming van daai community om die tafel – ek het vir jou en Niel leer ken so, en deur jou vir ML, en deur ML vir Johannes, en nou is ek getroud met Johannes, en ek en jy sit aan weerskante van die wêreld en lees weer mekaar se blogs. En jul almal is steeds van my naaste vriende. Ek besef blogging het so passé geword, maar dit het my regtig toegelaat om die mense te vind wat my mense is.


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