Puleng, Martin, Me and Lindi
Season 2, Episode 8 of Come Dine With Me South AfricaPhoto courtesy BBC Entertainment
So I have sat and watched it twice now- my episode of Come Dine With Me South Africa. My first reaction now that it's over? “Wow! That’s it?” I also had a whole bunch of friends watch it with me and I think I paid more attention to the twitter feed than I did to them – what kind of hosting is that?
I also am pretty mad at Dave Lamb right now, with his snarky narration...but what was I expecting?
I guess after the rolls and rolls of film, I expected – well, more. More show, more reality...more of what really went on with the four of us. The four of us, as many of you have seen by now was Puleng (Diva!), Lindi (Genius) and Martin ( ). Martin’s parenthesis is left empty because that’s how well I knew Martin after one week of hanging out and whooping it up. Nothing, nada, zero. That’s how much of himself he really shared with us.
And he won.
As I said in the episode I am a pretty simple woman who is here to love and serve God in any way I can in South Africa. I love South Africa – I love its people. My husband is a pastoral kind of guy, also filled of love and fun. All that didn’t make it into the episode...
When I first saw CDWM I thought that it looked like a lot of fun...and I thought that I could win. If you don’t know anything about full time ministry, let me tell you that no one does it to get wealthy. All of our money is usually poured back to others who have greater needs than we do. So ten thousand rand is a hefty chunk of change! It could do a lot for our church, our ministry and the people in the township. I entered online, got interviewed and then was told (while I was shopping) that I was going to be on the show. I was excited!! I had no idea what was in store for me....
Contrary to popular twitter posts, Puleng (or first host) is not stupid – she’s amazing. When I read the menu I honestly thought that with the pride in traditional food that it was put together by a Xhosa man. When she opened the door I thought: “Definitely not a man!”
To put a show like this together isn’t easy. The first night was filled with nuances that usually dominate a group of four meeting each other. Who is who? Who will dominate? Who will talk the least? Where is the snake in the grass? The first night is the hardest because (honestly) you just want to go to a dinner party and let the games begin!
Puleng was a great host and she was attentive and served some beautiful wines and champagne. She is also incredibly beautiful up close. At one point I had to apologize for staring at her. Honestly, I am a happily married woman...
Lindi is prettier than she appears on film -right away showed razor sharp wit and a speed of communication that kept me on my toes. During dinner I quoted William Shakespeare and Lindi quickly identified where it was from. She loves to stir, so a less worthy opponent might feel intimidated, but I loved her immediately. She also has incredible, adorable fashion sense.
Martin did not dress in traditionals and made no apologies. At one point Puleng brought him a Springbok jersey (quite hilarious) and told him if he wanted to dress like a traditional white boy that he should do it right. It was classic.
At the end of the night I went home almost falling asleep in my taxi because it was 1:30 a.m.. All night long I thought I cheated Puleng out of an 8 – but in the morning I realized that my score was fair. After all, she was in the kitchen a lot and seemed to have a cheat here, a cheat there. Nothing major, but just little stuff (I could tell the spinach was store-bought).
Lindi hosted us next. I’m going to say this loudly – and often. If I wasn’t going to win, Lindi should have won. Her menu was ambitious and she pulled it off. She also knew how to host a party. Her house was a showcase of art and she kept us all talking. We felt much more comfortable with each other by the end of the night.
Lindi’s fish was overcooked – but that tamarind sauce on top of it was FROM GOD!! I put the sauce on everything, and if she would have left it on the table I would have put it on my apple tartin. I have passionate feelings about pastry, which is why she got an 8 instead of a 9. Her apples were perfect and I hope next time she’ll think twice about shop-bought pastry. After all, she’s fabulous and should be making her own fabulous pastry.
The only hostess to bother with fine details, Lindi provided a masseuse, a cheese tray and an apéritif – a very expensive one. Truly a classy lady.
Martin hosted us next with quite an ostentatious menu. We all knew that his “Oh, I don’t cook,” act was just that - Martin could cook.
I didn’t mean to be picking Martin apart on his night- the way it came off on film was pretty funny, but edited to make it look like I didn’t like him. I thought my story about being adamant about the spelling of the Bering Sea was funny – even I (from North America) got the spelling wrong.
Martin tried and succeeded in being genuinely a good host. I thought he had a good shot at winning simply because of the table he set - It was amazing! In between courses Martin made sure we had drinks and still managed to serve nice, hot food (a feat of note with the way CDWM is filmed).
His barracuda was perfection. Brown and seasoned perfectly, it fell apart against my knife and still tasted buttery and gorgeous.
I don’t eat chocolate, so I didn’t eat Martin’s dessert. He also said he was making a coulis, which wasn’t what the packaged fruit topping was. It was unappetizing, but he had me at the fish.
8 out of 10.
Still, if Martin would have shared just one iota of his heart we all would scored him even higher. Instead, Martin is now known as the shameless cheat who lied about making his own cheese sauce. The night ended with a yawn.
The day I was supposed to host began with a power surge on my property that blew out all of our electricity. I had no lights, plugs, etc., and the stellar CDWM crew (in the most calm, cool and collected way) set up a generator that would enable me to use my oven and my blender. We had to change a lot of things, like the location of the piñata – we almost didn’t do it!
This rearranging was all done during the time I should have been cooking. I somehow managed to get everything done and in the oven, but I was (understandably) flustered. Every question about my family brought me to tears. At one point they asked me what I would do with the money if I won and I just lost it, saying that the best prize would be if my new friends came to church with me. It was a highly emotional day, and my nerves were pretty raw.
By the time that Martin (my first guest) had come to my door, I had barely gotten dressed (in the dark) and put on my makeup (I didn’t blend my blush enough –many tweets pointed this out, just in case I missed it).
Martin and I had a full Margarita before the rest of the guests got to the party and I finally felt relaxed. This is when Martin did something that I think was designed to sabotage my party – he told Puleng that I had specifically requested “No talking about T and A”.
Know what? I didn’t!
This would have seriously hampered Puleng’s ability to relax. She is very tender-hearted and Lindi and I felt very protective of her (She really is adorable and tender and she came off looking like a fake diva...and she’s not). While I was greeting Lindi, I came out to the patio and could tell Puleng was upset – and didn't know why.
I think this was worse than lying about the cheese sauce.
You saw that Martin asked me why I didn’t say grace. I didn’t forget, and I don’t think I needed to lead the group in prayer when we hadn’t prayed any other night! It would be kind of conceited for me to think that I could force my guests into some kind of reverence for God. I didn’t think much of it, really. I love God but I hate religion and pretentiousness.
I forgot the guacamole. I forgot the palette cleanser. I forgot to lay out a sufficient number of forks.... By the end of the night, I was exhausted. The night was fun and my party had gone really well (Martin even said later that it was his favorite night). But the scores reflect that I didn’t pull it off.
Want the truth? We all cooked well. Puleng served up great traditional food and made us all feel like friends on the first night. Lindi executed a challenging menu to perfection, adding classic touches that no one else thought of. Martin cooked – and well! And as far as I am concerned, dear ones, I gave it my whole heart preparing a meal for three beautiful people I wanted to love with food.
If I had to do it all again, I would.
But this time, I would have gone and searched Martin’s garbage with Puleng. I would have found the fake cheese sauce. Then I would have scored Martin a 5 for lying to his guests – in a cooking competition! To see the BBC advertisement of this episode click here.
Buen Provecho! (That's bon apetit in Mexican...or Latino)