A proper ‘skottelbraai’ fry-up is as much part of a bush holiday as a sturdy pair of binoculars. Without it, your experience just ain’t complete.
So, during our recent stay in the Kruger National Park we decided to set one morning aside to treat ourselves to a little bit of a feast under the spreading trees of Muzandzeni in the vicinity of Satara.
Being one of Kruger’s more remote picnic spots, it had only the bare essentials: two reed-encased long drops – one for men, one for women – a few rustic tables and a small scullery where a khaki-clad park official – devoid of all other company – leaned in closely to hear what his plucky little wireless radio had to say.
The earth underfoot had recently been raked and a few of the larger trees had been decorated with – what seemed like – a carefully curated selection of animal skulls, suggesting that when the radio’s jabbering turned monotonous, the man indulged an artistic sense of domesticity.
Our arrival broke his solitude, but he seemed neither appreciative nor apprehensive and unceremoniously set up the skottel we had rented from him for R25.
It was the first time I was in charge of a famous bushveld fry-up and found myself feeling strangely jittery with spatula in hand: how does this work again? Do the eggs go first or last? And the tomatoes? Should I start with the onions and then move on to the bacon?
You see, over the years my Dad has managed to develop a very specific ritual to ensure the very best results… and now the responsibility rested on my shoulders.
So, off I went: onions first, followed by the bacon and then the sausages. Thickly sliced tomatoes came next, fried only for a second or two on each side, and then the eggs. Within a matter of minutes everything was done and our banquet was served on enamel plates.
As we tucked in, a yellow hornbill swooped down and set to work picking the skottel clean, only to be challenged a short while later by a feisty starling. The two had a little scuffle, the silly starling eventually satisfied in his defeat with juicy morsels to peck at in the dust.
Soon enough we were back in the car, bellies full, eyes hungry for new sightings. As we turned the corner I caught a glimpse of the khaki-clad man again, slowly strolling back to the scullery, our discarded pan dangling from his hand. No rush. No haste. Nowhere to be but there. A sweet return to solitude. – Nadia