What is biltong?
There are many articles out there that will tell you how to make biltong and where its origins are from - this is is not one of them. This is a story about what it means to me and what part it has played in my life.
Coming from Zimbabwe I spent my early years in a town called Kariba, it was the most wonderful place to grow up, some of you reading this have been there. The smell of the water when you out there fishing, the strong scent of the potato trees in summer, the hot haze of heat that surrounds you in October, the sound of a screaming reel when you hook into a monster Tiger fish, the smell of fresh kapenta bait on your hands (and on your beer!) when you have baited up and of course the smell of fresh filleted fish early in the morning being grilled for breakfast.
Our family always had a lot of biltong in the house, in the kitchen there was a big kitchen board where the biltong was kept. When the urge took you , it was there for the taking. I was introduced to the wonders of peri peri biltong from a fairly young age and since has always been my favourite. Don't get me wrong, I love the taste of the traditional "plain" biltong, but it was always the spicy one that I went for in the end. I remember sitting at the bottom of the garden chewing on a spicy stick of "tong" with my friends, we would sit there together in silence chewing away for ages looking over the valley and the Zambezi River towards Zambia wondering enjoying the hot weather and fine tasting biltong.
Now I live in the Uk and things are very different. As I write this it is raining and a little cold, I look out the window and there is not much of a view, my usual view of the downs is obscured by mist and general wetness but that is ok, I have been down to the our butcher and found some biltong, hmm it is Good- it is peri peri and it is spicy, I still don't like it sliced, it is a stick just the same as I had at home. Now instead of sitting there with a friend I have my daughter, we are sitting together watching Scooby Doo I am sure that it is one of the same episodes that I watched when I was a kid. She prefers Doritos to biltong, buts that ok, we sit together watching the world go by, the same as I did all those years ago.
The scenery has changed I am a little older and (I hope!) a little wiser. My friends who once sat with me now live with their families, life has changed but there are still some things that are the same and "things" bring us back to points in our past that we treasure - for me it is biltong it has been there all my life (and will continue to do so as long as I have teeth).. Change is always good but sometimes having something that has not changed just makes you feel like a kid again and gives you that magic feeling well I am sure you know what I am talking about