South Africa: Tannie Boy and the Art of Extracting Prickly Pear Syrup

analysis

Prickly pear syrup is the taste of childhood in the Karoo. It never lasted more than a week in our home, and it has been missed dearly during the last few dry years. This year, thanks to Tannie Boy, we have the taste of our childhood again.

The writer supports the Gift of the Givers Foundation's Drought Relief programme.

There are many complicated food folkways in the South African culinary repertoire, but the making of prickly pear syrup exceeds them all. No contest. I've heard of two-day baking marathons and the spitbraaiing of a whole ox, which all takes dedication and stamina. But nothing comes close to the effort needed to make one small cup of prickly pear syrup.

Prickly pears are tough buggers. They've adapted to the arid-most parts of our county and like most things there, they don't go down without a fight. Even the joy of eating them as a snack in summer often doesn't justify the effort of picking and peeling them. Prickly pear fruits have microscopic thorns that lodge in your flesh and nostrils and make you itch for days on end. They can blind you if the wind blows while picking. And then, as...

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