Getting Drunk in a Tent

The Johannesburg Summer Food and Wine Festival

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The Big Top was up, the monkeys were ready to perform.

People who live in Joburg are often accused of being shallow. You know… the sort of crassness that means if that it were dressed up in a nice low-cut top and came with a fancy gold-leaf invitation, we’d probably go to the opening of a door.

I think this is unfair. I’d only go to the opening of a door if there were free drinks.

I honestly think that we in Gauteng are so starved of entertainment opportunities, that we’ve genuinely fallen into a weird schizophrenic state when people actually try and organize an event that doesn’t involve armed robbery.  We either a) totally ignore it, because we’re convinced that it’ll be crap anyway (as happened with the “Spring Day Festival” a little while back where approximately 30 people showed up. Yikes), or b) flock in droves to something that’s mostly rubbish, but we’re going to damn well go and simultaneously convince ourselves that it’s “just as good as if it was in Cape Town”.

The recent “Summer Food and Wine Festival” at Zoo Lake was somewhere in between. Two big tents (one for food and beer, the other for wine) around a jumping castle and bizarrely enough, a mobile fast-food van from Spur, which it has to be said set a fairly odd tone.

So, I’d been exposed to quite a bit of the advertising in the runup to the event itself and they all went something like this:

“Come to the Summer Food & Wine Festival. It’ll be great. There’ll be an oyster bar. Don’t forget fun for the kids and the oyster bar. Lot’s of wine and oyster bar. Oyster bar food oyster bar tent oyster bar stalls oyster bar oyster bar. Oyster. R80”

With that sort of introduction you’d expect the oyster bar to be lit up with trained performing elephants, naked imported dancing girls and Barack Obama dressed as an oyster reading excerpts from “I heart Oysters: an oyster-lover’s guide”.

Nope. In fact, the oyster bar was so low-key that I missed it completely. It may even have been mythical.

When you pack a huge tent with food, stalls and croc-wearing red-faced 40-somethings, it’s almost impossible not to get swept up in the excitement of it all. The guy next to me was excited enough to immediately get on the phone and have the following conversation: ‘Bru it’s lekker here, kif food, weather’s great and Chippie and I are about to get fokken leathered.’ I wanted to be his friend.

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Gypsywurst and the Nottingham Road Brewer's excellent Pickled Pig (porter) with a Whistling Weasel (ale) lurking behind.

But, once you’d walked around for five minutes you realized that it was a small case of same-old same-old: suppliers I’ve seen just about everywhere and the usual assortment of cheese, mini-tarts and Polish salami that you can get at the Rosebank Market or Blubird on a Sunday. I guess it was a classic example of good intentions, but just not executed as well as you’d like. Don’t get me wrong – people were wolfing down cheese, wine and beer like tomorrow was tax day, but almost out of a sense of “oh well, we’re here, might as well make the most of it.”

The afternoon’s purchases went as follows:

1)    marsmallow fudge: so sweet you’d think bambi had thrown up in your mouth.

2)   Caramel coffee-dipped nuts (excellent).

3)   Cheap wine. Really…very cheap. I totally expect it was made in a bathtub, but it was delicious. Because it was R25.

4)   Beer. Lots of it.

5)    German sausage.

Without a doubt the saving grace of the day was that all of the prominent microbrewers had arrived and they’d brought enough beer for EVERYONE. Twice. So, armed with a gypsywurst with mustard and sauerkraut, there was only thing to do, and that was try and drink the Nottingham Road stand into closing early.  You know….get leathered, bru.

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3 thoughts on “Getting Drunk in a Tent

    1. No freakin’ clue! I honestly couldn’t find the damn things – and then after pints of pickled pig and god knows how much bathtub wine, I just didn’t care anymore…

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