(a 360 repost) Someone asked me what we're having for supper ; )
Tonight, we had samp and beans or as the Xhosa call it, umngqusbo, for supper and it made me think of Sophie. Samp, for those who don't know, is a white hominy. It is cooked with sugar beans and beef. My version contains tomato extract too - delicious!
Sophie is on the far left in the photograph. I'm the grubby looking kid with the bright red ribbons. My gran always put ribbons in my hair, no matter what the activity was or where we were going. I think she loved ribbons and they were always big and bright. On the far right, is Hamish, my brother and between us is Jemimah, Sophie's daughter and my playmate. Next to me is my gran. The other lady is a friend of hers, Gloria... a crazy lady.
Sophie was our maid. She worked for my gran from before I came along. Then she became my nanny. She is the one who walked me to and from school in the early grades. Ouma (my gran) was at the shop (for those who don't know, I was raised by my grandparents.) I remember sitting at the kitchen table, eating my lunch after school and telling Sophie to sit with me. "No, miss, it's not right." No amount of nagging on my part would get her to sit with me. She would stand at the counter, eating her lunch. Sophie was the one who taught me how to mop up the gravy from the stew with a chunk of bread... yummy! Sophie was also the one who taught me how to enjoy and later to make samp and beans. I have since used the dish for winter comfort food and even entertaining.
I remember once as a fairly new wife, we had had dinner with friends who were way out of our financial league. It was like eating at a hotel. They had servants doing all the preparation and serving. I was duly intimidated, as I knew we'd have to return the favour. In the end, I made samp and beans... something my friend had never tasted before. It was a hit. I love that stuff :)
Sophie was with us through my primary school years. It was Sophie who fetched me from school the day my grandad died. That was the end of an era. We moved and Sophie retired. Within a couple of months, I lost my beloved grandad, Jim, and Sophie. I can still picture her in her ever-present black beret, leaning over the kitchen counter, mopping up her gravy with a chunk of bread.... or chopping meat for supper, listening patiently to my jabbering.