Cuisine Noir – Delicious Life: World Cup 2010 — the Planet’s Biggest Party

by wands on June 1, 2010

Full version of this column appeared in Cuisine Noir mag, June 2010.

Moyo, Durban, South AfricaThe feast is about to begin — of soccer, of music — and if there’s a party and it’s happening in South Africa, you can be sure that the beer is chilled, the charcoal is lit for the braai (think barbecue — it’s the South African equivalent), the spices are ready for the curries, and a menu of specialties reflecting the melting pot of South African cultures is waiting to tempt fans who are foodies with a sense of culinary adventure.

On the music front:

South Africa is alive right now with discordant trumpeting sounds, not of herds of raging elephants, but of a gazillion plastic horns that you can blow until the cows come home and hear sweet silence, until someone shows you how.

“Make your lips like you’re going to kiss someone and put them inside the mouth of the vuvuzela,” says KwaZulu-Natal tourism guide Mawande Bantwini, puckering up to show me how. “And blow from the stomach,” he adds, robustly patting his.

Hari Krishna temple, Durban, South AfricaI try, and try again. And then it comes. A haunting foghorn sound; not quite ear-splitting yet. That takes practice. But it’s a start, and essential knowledge if you’re one of the anticipated 350,000 or so overseas fans expected in South Africa for World Cup 2010.

I’ve learned that the vuvuzela is South Africa’s secret weapon, a fact now revealed to Cuisine Noir readers. The South African national soccer team, Bafana Bafana, is used to playing to the ear-splitting cacophony of several thousand of these, all blown at once.

Some competing teams, claiming the noise impairs their game, have asked for the vuvuzela to be banned. (The request was declined.) “Practice, practice,” I’ve heard South African fans say in response. Versions of the origins of this blowing horn vary, depending on who you ask. The one that seems to have stuck is the African folklore story that “A baboon is killed by a lot of noise.” So, during the last quarter of a match, supporters frantically blow vuvuzelas in an attempt to kill off their opponents.

From the disharmony of the vuvuzela to harmony — and flash: The World Cup Kick-Off Celebration Concert, planned as a spectacular extravaganza . . .

Read the full version of this column in Cuisine Noir magazine.

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