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Rusk Rituals

Rusk Rituals - Andrea Morgan

[vc_row][vc_column][eltdf_custom_font title_tag=”” font_weight=”” font_style=”” text_transform=”” text_decoration=”” text_align=””][eltdf_text_marquee font_weight=”” font_style=”” text_transform=””][vc_column_text]It is the faint chipper of nature’s alarms that slowly serenade me from my slumber. I lie still and listen and can begin to faintly trace the window outline as the golden time of dawn starts to seep in.

I finally sneak a hand out from underneath the bundles of winter warmth to check the clock: 5.14am.

“Too early for a rusk?” is my immediate thought… “Never!” is my second.

A rusk for those, unfortunately, not familiar with this classic South African delicacy, is a form of chunky biscuit that is similar to biscotti but has not been so extremely slimmed down. Without a hot beverage on hand, it presents itself as dry and crumbly. However, coupled with a cuddle in a cup, the rusk transforms itself into a hearty, delicious dipping experience. One that melts in your mouth with just enough crunch and is perfectly partnered with the taste of your preferred tea or coffee. The act of dipping a rusk can almost also be considered an art as timing is everything. Be careful not to dunk it for too long as it will become soggy and end up inside your cup. Too short a dipping time and it may still be a bit brittle to bite.

Rusks (also known as ‘Beskuit’ in Afrikaans) are made from a variety of different doughs, but the method remains similar: broken or cut into chunks after baking they are then slowly dried in an oven. According to the book Die Geskiedenis van Boerekos 1652 – 1806 the word ‘biscuit’ was borrowed from the French, for its meaning of being ‘twice baked’. Rusks have been popular since the late 1600s as a way of preserving bread, especially when travelling long distances without refrigeration, and their use continued through the Great Trek and the Boer Wars through to today.

My favourite rusks are homemade with much love and secrecy, two trays at a time, by Suzanne in her Langkloof (Klein Karoo) kitchen. They are a dash of this and a splash of that but a consistent reminder of familiar comforts and memories… Watching the mist dissipate on the farm on a very ‘brrrrrrrrr’ winters morning with a steaming cup of coffee or sharing a pot of rooibos tea on a sunny Sunday afternoon… The moreish munch of rusks always accompanies them.

They are small moments of slow living, and coveted calm in our current pace of life, requiring mindfulness of the present as you perfect the rusk dip time ratio. They are easily enjoyed individually or shared amongst family and friends making them the ideal snack food for rumbling tummies; morning, noon and night. A traditional South African treat!

I sincerely hope you happen to now have a rusk at hand wherever you may be reading this… Or it is time to find your closest home industry to select and stockpile your favourites to relish in your own rusk rituals because home is where the rusks are.

Do you have any fond rusk moments? I would love to hear your stories…

PS. If you can practice willpower around these, please let me know as rusks are one of those ‘beskuit’ that if someone does not take the pack away from you, the rusks will likely finish the same time as your coffee or tea!

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Throw: ‘Blue Moon’ Itawuli by Mungo 
Mug: The ‘Cape of Good Hope’ by Patricia Fraser for Chandler House



This apt artwork is by local artist, Amy Slatem. Amy is an incredible illustrator and you can see and support her work further via Facebook, Instagram and her website, amyslatem.com.

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