Gladiatorial perseverance nails online shopping

Gladiatorial perseverance nails online shopping

Online shopping is okay but you need to know where to click in Cape Town, from Abalone to Zing beans.

This morning there are four white vans in my street of the type that young girls are told to beware of. “He was driving a white van, milord.”

The next best thing to room service (which I am a hearty believer in) is food at your door, each parcel inviting a Christmas morning surprise.

When we were flattened by lockdown my thoughts flew to food, as they too often do. Where will I get Schoon bread, hummus made by Giovanni’s, not stretched with cornflour; tiny black-eyed beans only sold at Atlas in the Bo-Kaap; cheese from Gay’s Dairy, the only cheesemaker who uses raw milk, the small, sweet tomatoes from Umthunzi, Bao buns (a handmade Asian fusion food, the culinary equivalent of Ferragamo velvet slippers), and duck eggs.

Granadilla provides all this and more, chatty emails, always in touch. Three minutes ago I sent a text to Granadilla saying I was a loaf of bread short on my delivery. Open the door: “Here’s your bread, sorry about that.” Today they even had truffles but the photo looked too much like dog poo for me to order.

On the downside it veers towards vigilante veganism and righteous spin. I half expect a voice to interrupt my order with a stern, “No, that is bad for you.” But there’s enough good, despite weird plant based products, to keep a carnivore going, although no actual meat. At first delivery was free, now it is R29, a deceit that is not enamouring. Do your sums first.

My first shot on lockdown eve, cracking addiction shakes, was Woolworths. They could deliver in three weeks and anticipating famine, I took it, although even the most dilatory goofball dealer could improve on timing.

Woolworths is, well it’s Woolworths. Imagine life in South Africa without it. Tiny veg, they got it, heritage tomatoes, they got them and I didn’t have to read how much good they do for the poor. They are blatantly commercial.

But there was a lot more swag out there, stuff I didn’t even know existed.

uCook is the fav among the smartypants borderline orthorexics. Personally,  boxes make me nervous and please let me know where you find organic meat and chicken. Is the milk raw? Online fooders embrace the word organic like a lover but do they even know what it means? Just an egg nestling in straw can make them randy.

uCook also do cooked meals of the sort you find in recherché restaurants in newly chic city spaces. Today a wagyu burger and fragrant Massaman mussels made me salivate. I tried to order but there were too many conditions and a waiting period of 10 days.

A lot depends on how user-friendly the site is. Some are so cumbersome, they require gladiatorial perseverance, but it gets easier. Delivery requires a combination of national will, and the ability to turn slit-throat tough. Trying to catch Lauren, newly maidless, between gym, pilates and therapy requires clairvoyance and some witchery. Granadilla gives a delivery time, between 10 and 5. Oh yeah?

Babylonstoren is the online go-to for the anointed. However, I gave them a miss because they are seasonal and the copy is excruciating and talks about the “farm’s rich heritage” and the “ever changing tapestry of seasonal abundance”.

I have always loved Spier. Farmer Angus is hot. And when he says organic, hell he means it. Unfortunately it only produced a weedy bunch of carrots (that’s the central problem with things grown without chemicals, they are so unreliable) but the meat is yum and minus all those things that are supposed to kill you. Delivery charge R100.

I am a feedlot eater so in-between I used my favourite shop, Checkers in Kloof Street, where the food is cheaper and the cashiers asleep. But on delivery they whizz up a treat, arriving on a motorbike almost before you’ve put the phone down. The choice is a bit lean but apricot jam (R24) and orange jewel sweet potatoes (R17 for a big bag) are joyous. Sixty60 delivers within the hour with no charge during lockdown.

Nano drew me because of low prices and no delivery charge but the produce was flakey. A picture of pretty, small beetroots turned up ancient orb-like things the size of footballs with the consistency of a granola bar and the avocados were vrot. Good communication – and all will be credited, but still.

The arty stroke organic set swear by someone called Renier van der Westhuizen of Nude Foods. Doreen de Waal, super host and supreme stylist, says, “Nude Foods for pulses, nuts, teas, non chemical cleaning stuff, also some fruits and veg. And on a Fridays Renier van der Westhuizen delivers the most amazing veggies, fruits, breads, oils.” Sadly, I didn’t crack the nod from Nude Foods. I left a message but got no answer.

Pick n Pay refused my cheque card.

Phumlani Malinga, whose weird mix-up dishes sometimes flash on my Facebook page, says she uses Greenfish for fresh and frozen fish.

If I met Greenfish on a dating site we would be married: products include abalone, wild prawns and oysters, my wish-for diet. But I get great service from Mother City Fish, bringing yellowtail as fresh as the wind to my door.

So let me eat crow and confess. I’m a serious aficionado of in-store shopping. The touch of a granadilla, which was once described in a food article for The New Yorker as looking like a dented golf ball, is exotic; squeezing an avocado comforting, and tomatoes must be round. An oblong tomato is just a flop.

I did learn one thing: there is no such thing as an organic vegetable. DM/TGIFood


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