Only a Capetonian could find this a thrilling headline: “Bumper run of snoek at Yzerfontein last week – they say the best in 10 years. Some very happy fisherman.”
In Cape Town the snoek has always been eaten and I remember well the cry: “Vars Snoek!”
When the British were frantically hungry in the Second World War, South Africa kindly sent them our snoek.
Were the British grateful? Were they heck! Judge for yourself from these quotes.
No wonder Capetonians have kept snoek to themselves ever since!
“The British public were treated to the dubious pleasures of whale and horse meat together with snoek, a strange and unloved tinned fish from South Africa.”
Shaun Ferguson, Carlisle
“I was 15 years old when war was declared and working in an office in Bristol.
Food was rationed of course but I can’t say we ever went hungry. If the weekly meat ration had been used (which was 1s 2d per person per week – around 7p in today’s money I think) , then mashed potatoes with onion and perhaps some of the precious cheese ration grated on top and put in the oven to brown made a very filling meal. Offal, being cheaper was eaten quite often, pig or lambs’ hearts (lamb were best)., tripe boiled with onions in milk ,and chitterlings (pigs’ intestines cooked) all took their turn on the table. Faggots, containing lights (lung), spleen (another stomach organ) and liver put though the mincer with bread, onions and plenty of herbs, were very tasty as long as you didn’t think of what you were actually eating! Most kitchens had a mincer screwed to the table. Rabbit, and any chicken whose egg-laying days were over, added variety. Tinned fish was also available. The dreaded snoek has gone down in legend – it was horrible!”
“We had tinned Snoek that came from South Africa and always reminded me of Macherel but was not too bad, whale meat also came from South Africa looked more like steak and tasted awful.”