In search of lost tripe: the ulusu episode


Food memories

In search of lost tripe: the ulusu episode

Yolisa Mkele gets nostalgic about that one time he used pizza to weasel his daughter into trying a local delicacy


Many people’s memories are entangled with the types of food they were eating and when. 

It’s all about the smells. The smell of ulusu (or “tripe” for those with uncultured taste buds) says everything about home. Not necessarily the one you grew up in but rather the one your soul feels most comfortable in. The one that would be bursting at the seams with cousins every December. It fills a house with the redolence of your dad asking you to hold a leg as he ethically slaughters a sheep. Of a kitchen full of mother’s laughing as they clean intestines and young kids sneaking into the kitchen and pilfering a piece of tripe and dombolo out of a pot before wolfing it down in a corner. In short ulusu smells like love, or at least that’s what I’d always thought.

In the decade that she had been alive, my daughter heard fables of the house in Mthatha where her dad had spent a few weeks every year playing with his cousins and being sent on errands by a cohort of uncles. Tales had come down to her about how that house had played host to a series of pranks devised by a much younger version of her ‘Khulu. To be honest there was far less cheesy nostalgia involved in her decision to come finally visit her great grandmother’s home. It turns out that when you are legally not allowed to make certain decisions for yourself, what dad says goes...

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