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Afrika Burn: A very different festival!

May 14, 2011

I’m not quite sure how we ended up at Afrika Burn. Something to do with a lot of beer, a crazy American work colleague and the desire to satisfy my boyfriends need for an adventure. Going to what sounded like a crazy, beautiful party in the desolate Karoo seemed like the perfect plan for a surprise birthday gift, so the ever wonderful La and I snuck around for a week, planning a 5 day camping trip to this festival with only half a clue about what we were letting ourselves in for!

The concept is a little hard to explain, hence our stepping in to the unknown. But the basic principles are that people drive to the middle of nowhere in the Karoo to spend 4 days doing anything they want to contribute to the community. This mainly takes the form of giant, burnable art sculptures but is only limited by the imagination of the participants. Consequently we took part in massive bean bag wars, were given hot soup and candy floss, listened to music played only from lit gas piped through various pipes attached to an old washing machine, wrote letters to the universe, sent postcards to our friends and family, dressed up in fancy dress gear, made things out of old leather scraps (including a guitar strap for Ben!), had free beer, rode around on crazy vehicles including a pirate ship and a trailer covered in hammock swings, ate free pancakes for breakfast, built a fracking rig out of bamboo, danced the night away under giant metal sculptures and in a giant cactus shaped tent and much much more! See the pictures below and the website (http://www.afrikaburn.com/) for some more details.

Armadillo car - just one of the many mutant vehicles!

The succulent dance tent!

Amazing fire flower! This was joined every night by a truck with more fire flowers and an onboard DJ playing from a living room in a trailer 🙂

More mutant vehicles...

Dancing with a giant monkey!

Amazing art car with hanging swings and hammocks - the perfect place to spend an evening!

Desert Daisies...

Angler fish and me!

The giant rings go up in flames.

The pendulum is set on fire.

Protesting against the potential fracking in the Karoo!

The running man burns.

For our gift to the community Lauren, Ben and I baked Potjie bread and made dukka to distribute along with SASSI guides to fish sustainability.

The SASSI girls give out bread with a sustainability message!

For those of you who aren’t aware of SASSI, they are an initiative which offers information to you, the consumer, on making the best (most sustainable and least environmentally damaging) choices when it comes to seafood. Principally they have constructed a set of lists: red, orange and green, which work like a traffic light (sorry Robot – what’s with that?!):

Red = Stop, you shouldn’t be buying this species, it’s population has collapsed, the methods used involve heavy by-catch (species which aren’t targeted e.g. sharks etc). It may even be illegal to buy this fish.

Orange = Slow down, consider stopping. We are uncertain how much more fishing pressure these species can withstand. The methods used may involve by-catch.

Green= Go! Eat these species rather than any others. They represent the most stable populations fished by fisheries with the current industry best practice methods. These methods may include more targeted fishing techniques, those which are less destructive (i.e. pole caught rather than trawled) or where agreements have been made to halt expansion in to new regions.

You can download a copy of the SASSI pocket guide here.

As there is no vending of any sort at Afrika Burn, participants must bring everything to survive with them e.g. water, food, etc etc. Consequently a gift of fresh bread went down very well.

Happy campers enjoy warm, fresh bread with dukka.

For those of you not familiar with them, a potjie is a cast iron pot for cooking on the fire. We used a flat bottomed number 10 and one of the tripod, number 3 potjies – a cast iron pot (e.g. Le Creuset <3) will also suffice. Here is my recipe for Potjie bread, which I first made in Botswana:

Potjie Bread

Ingredients

2kg flour
Salt
60ml sugar
2 instant yeast sachets
200ml oil
1.5l warm water
Any herbs/cheese/olives etc you would like to add. I've used feta, olives, rosemary and even basil pesto (use a little less oil for this).
Oil to grease the potjie

For this amount you will need at least 2 potjies.

Method

Mix the salt through the flour, add the sugar, yeast and herbs.
Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the warm water and oil. Mix to form a dough and then knead well. Grease the potjies well (including lid), split the dough and form into shapes of choice – I made one standard loaf in the flat bottomed potjie (put a few slices in the top) and broke the other half of the dough into individual rolls which I put together in the bottom of the larger potjie. Place the potjies next to the fire to warm and rise the dough for about 1hr, turning every 15 minutes. After this, place the potjies on top of/slightly above a few hot coals and place a few individual coals on each lid. Check the bread regularly, it can be quite difficult to get the temperature right. When each loaf sounds hollow (give it a good tap), take the potjies off the fire and remove the bread.

1 loaf and a set of rolls ready to go 🙂

We served this bread warm with olive oil and dukka – see recipe below:

Dukka

A North-African/Middle Eastern spice mix for bread.

Ingredients

1/2 cup of hazelnuts
1/4 cup of sesame seeds
1/4 cup of coriander seeds
2 tbs cumin seeds
1 tbs ground black pepper
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

Method

Toast the hazelnuts in your frying over a medium-high heat. Remove the skins (easiest done by rubbing them between two tea towels) and let them cool. Repeat this with the seeds. Place all ingredients in a food processor and chop to a coarse consistency. Taste and add more sugar/salt/pepper as desired.

Dip the bread in olive oil, then in the dukka and enjoy!

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