Reed Holler, North West Province.  South Africa.
27. April 2012.

South Africa’s answer to the American doughnut is the fatcake, known in Afrikaans as the vetkoek and in the Setswana as legwinya (pl: magwinya).  Magwinya are not as sweet as their American cousins, made instead from a simple yeast dough without a lot of sugar and fried in sunflower oil.  Magwinya can be eaten with spread with jam, dusted with cinnamon and sugar, or wrapped around mince or atchaar.  However, I prefer my magwinya as most South Africans do: plain, along side a cup of sweet, strong tea.

In Reed Holler, an old gogo makes magwinya from her home, rising in the cold before dawn to knead and fry the dough.  Though I have bought magwinya sizzling with oil right in her kitchen, I simply know her as MaGogo, or Grandmother – by which I address all elder women in the village.  Every morning, her grandson – a friendly young guy named Thapelo – wheels a wicker basket full of the fried treats around Reed Holler’s dusty streets, selling them at one Rand (about fifteen cents) apiece.


5 responses to “Magwinya

  1. Sounds just like Krispy Creme here in Atl., although those doughnuts are $1.00 each. Took LG and AJ there this week. I love the name fatcake. Describes it perfectly!!

  2. Finally got around to reading the backlog of posts you’ve been making here. Sorry the letter pipeline dried up some months ago, but if you send me your latest address I can assure some sweet drawings and science rants will make it to you soon.

    Excellent and well-thought-out prose addressing all aspects of life. Looks like you’re making the most of the experience for yourself and the community. At the risk of sounding selfish, you are much-missed here. Breu came along a while ago and we recollected grand times at your folks house cooking roasted potatoes with fresh rosemary. Keep on doing great work my friend.

    • Simon – great to hear from you, friend. That was a great weekend: good friends, good food and beer, and better friends. I think about it often. Life is good here, mostly, but I do miss y’all.

      My address is:

      PO Box 938
      Jericho 0189
      South Africa

      Looking forward to continued pen-and-paper correspondence.

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