I moved to Johannesburg January 2014 and I was ever so excited to immerse myself in the big city culture. See, I spent 5 years in a small town in the middle of nowhere called Grahamstown and all I knew about the City of Gold was what I saw and heard from the people that lived here. I would hear about the numerous food festivals hosted around town and couldn’t wait for the day I’d get to attend them. Fast forward and I’ve been here almost two years now. I’ve attended quite a number of these so called “foodie meet ups” and I must say, I’ve had enough of them.
You should expect to find the same street food at all these festivals which include the ever famous Wygu Beef Stand serving their burgers and hot dogs. Asian stands serving steamed buns, dim sum and noodles. Churros, Macaroons and several other stands which frankly have nothing to do with South African cuisine. This was my first time attending the Taste of Joburg Festival and I must say I was left rather unimpressed and it didn’t help that I came down with a terrible case of food poisoning the next day. It’s safe to say, I will not be attending next year or the years to follow and here’s why;
- Call me naïve (I did say I was new to this) but I expected a lot more variety than what was showcased. I went with my phone fully charged and money in my wallet ready to sample and snap the various food and drinks representing this metropolitan city. Scroll through my camera reel and you’ll find more pictures of my friends and I taking selfies than they are of food (hence the cover image). We even failed to use up all the coupons we bought and had to return them for our money back. That’s how little there was on display.
- In addition, the food that was showcased was what I would call a one-sided representation of Johannesburg. South African/African cuisine is never represented at these festivals and it always leaves me questioning why? Is it because African cuisine doesn’t meet Western standards of what is considered fine dinning? Do we not feel our food is worthy to hold its own at such festivals? I’m tired of seeing the same stands that do nothing but mimic current food trends from elsewhere in the world and show very little authenticity to what our food culture is.
So until the day I can get a plate of tripe at these festivals arises, I’ll be sitting them out.
That being said, I should also add that it’s unfair to expect this of the world when I fail to do it myself. I should be the change I want to see so maybe I’ll just get myself a stand and start selling the food I’d like to feast on…maybe, just maybe 😉
All in all though the festival wasn’t all bad. There was a great range of amazing South African wines on display and several cocktail stands that helped relieve me of some of those extra coupons 😀