How to Fry a Fish — Cape Town Style, Part II

Continued from Part I.

Dropping the fish into my rucksack, Jonathan and I walked down the pier. A light coloured boy, a bit swarthy already in his early teens, had caught a small mudskipper. His younger brother had just lost the bait off his line, which was weighted with a 10mm bolt and nut. Chatting up their father, I learned they weren’t from Kalk Bay, but from a suburb just over the mountain. They had just arrived and were getting ready for a night of fishing, because the fish start biting at dusk. The boy was still struggling with his undersized fish, which had since stopped struggling. I lent him my Opinel pocket knife to cut it off the line and toss it back. I chortled after it, “Hope you don’t float!” and grinned when I didn’t see it belly up in the green dark waters.

I was curious about what they used for bait. The father pulled out a smooth shelled, pearly green and white clam.  “White mussel” he said. “It’s good bait, still alive.” I immediately saw that they dug it themselves and inquired further. He pointed to the sand flats by the tidal pools we had walked past, just to the near side of Muizenberg. To dig the clams, you walk out on the flats and as the sand squishes underfoot, a hole will appear. That’s your clam. Immediately, start digging after it, because the clam will run away and disappear down its tunnel. I laughed at this image and asked if they were good eating. The father nodded. “You can eat the whole thing, even the little green part.”

Read on to Part III.

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