Time to break bread together? Try a Kota.

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Known as a kota or "skhambane" in Johannesburg and spatlo in Pretoria, this iconic street food is made from a hollowed out quarter loaf of white bread and filled with a variety of ingredients, often potato, "slap" chips, sausage, egg, beef patty, cheese, polony and atchar.

 

 

 

This is where the idea for this post began…Al Prodgers had done an episode based on a visit to Gregory’s in Linden. Watching the story unfold made me salivate to try one of these that is similar to a good old Durban Bubby Chow.

I said similar, not identical, but I digress… Seeing that Al had been and gone without so much as a by your leave, I took myself off to said corner convenience store to see what he had been talking about.

To watch this video, use this link… https://youtu.be/-YhFUAIcBso

 

 

 

Just up the road from our house…

I have eaten here before. I have tried their fish and chips as well as the hamburgers, but the Kota was a first for me.

The shop can be found opposite the Linden High School on the corner of 3rd Ave and 6th Street.

Would you believe that the shop is 69 years old…I defy large corporate supermarkets to stay on the same site for that length of time.

 

 

 

Step through the portal and you will be transported back through a tunnel of time.

When the world was a gentler place and big corporate supermarkets had not invaded the suburbs, often causing small businesses like this to shut their doors.

What Gregory’s serves cannot be replicated in those by companies.

There is a buzz in the shop with, or so it seemed to me, many regulars coming in and out. Orders were flying and the aroma of vinegar and frying chips hung heavy in the air.

 

 

 

Who remembers when Chappies was a currency that was stronger than the Rand? I do!

It was 4 Chappies or 1 Wicks bubble gum to a penny. It meant that making small change was kept to a minimum…and the cash in the till of the cafe owner.

 

 

 

Get your timing right and there is no waiting. But get it wrong and you could be here for a while.

School comes out at around 2 pm and it seems that for many of the students, this is a destination before heading home, going to extra lessons or participating in sports.

But the beauty of a shop like this is that everyone talks to each other and there is no pushing and shoving to get noticed or served.

 

 

 

Shaun, hidden behind the counter that is piled high with a variety of fruit and sweets. And the sweets are not necessarily from large manufacturers, many are from small independent suppliers. They are delicious, and I recommend their fudge.

BTW. If you are looking to set up a home aquarium, Shaun has those for sale as well.

Seemingly a one-stop shop.

 

 

 

A beverage of your choice while waiting for your order?

 

 

 

This bicycle is for display purposes, however the shop does have another that they utilize for delivery purposes in and around the Linden area.

 

 

 

Just as I was leaving, Xolani rode in after having done lunchtime deliveries.

 

 

 

Loveness, Queen of the Kota and Shaun’s manager.

How did the Kota become the takeaway food we know today?

It was probably “invented” by Zulu men who came to work in the mines, who reimagined the basic idea of the Bunny Chow and turned it into the kota.

 

 

 

My lunch, thanks to the prompting by Al.

What is a Kota?

The name kota, used in areas such as Soweto and Johannesburg, is derived from the English word quarter, referring to the size of the bread loaf used. The name sphatlo is being used in the Pretoria townships of Soshanguve, Atteridgeville and Mamelodi.

The name refers to what the filling is contained in, a quarter loaf of FRESH white bread. None of the fancy artisanal loaves, just plain white Albany bread (in the case of Gregory’s)

As far as I am concerned if you are offered sourdough, ciabatta, rye or even plain brown bread…walk away.

The fillings can be whatever you desire. Hamburger patties, lettuce and tomato to polony, chips, viennas or even Russians. The choice is yours.

For my first Kota, I decided not to be adventurous, and I chose a beef stew which was delicious and messy. It is certainly not a first date food, but it might well add joy and laughter to that event making it memorable.

The bread becomes both cutlery and crockery and just make certain that you have serviettes on hand…lots of them.

Or just lick your fingers to enjoy every last morsel.

BTW, do you know where the derivation of the word bunny chow comes from?

Sit closer and I will tell you…

Once upon a time…

One story claims that a South African restaurant run by Banias (an Indian caste) first created the dish at a restaurant-café, called Kapitan’s, on the corner of Victoria and Albert streets in Durban.

Another tale opines that the origin of this handheld dish was due to Indian golf caddies not being allowed to publicly carry sharp cutlery like knives during apartheid.

“Chow” in South African English is slang for “food” as well as the verb “to eat”.

So Bania morphed into bunny and the word chow was maintained, giving us the iconic half-loaf filled with lamb or beef curry that we know today. Traditionally it is served with a side of fresh salad.

Bunny or Kota, you can get them both at Gregory’s.

But be warned, I have a feeling that they can be addictive because as I write this I am thinking about what I might try for lunch today…

 

 

 

Travel is the proud winner of this prestigious award from the digital British lifestyle magazine Luxlife. The award is in the category Best Travel & Experiences Blog 2024 – South Africa

 

 

 

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