Not long ago, we wrote an article on Surf Food that labeled some of the best post, or for that matter, pre-session surf foods to be found around the world. Almost in response to that, my dad sent me an article that had been written some time ago about a certain surf food synonymous with growing up in Durban, and in particular, growing up surfing in Durban. Now, I apologize in advance for forgetting this culinary wonder off the list. However, in my defense it has been some time since I have sampled the wonders that this particular South African delicacy bestows upon your taste buds.
Ok, so you might be wondering what I’m talking about. To those of you who are already in the loop (i.e. South African) you would have guessed by the mound of food to the right what I am talking about. To those of you who are not familiar, I am referring to the famous Bunny Chow!
Still confused, and now are you possibly wondering what kind of person would eat a poor bunny stuffed helplessly in a half loaf of bread? Wonder no longer! The following article will have you up to speed and drooling for the next mouth full of wondrous bunny chow in no time.
During school vacations growing up in Durban, we used to get dropped off at North Beach in the early morning by whoever would get us down there. Where, for the next 12 hours, 7am to 7pm, we would get up to all sorts of shenanigans. For the most part, it was spent surfing, stealing trays for bodysurfing and of course, bodysurfing. Ohh, and I forgot to mention trying to pick up chicks. Needless to say as growing boys, it was important to fuel the machine with as little effort and most importantly, as little cash as was possible.
In the morning before you eagerly clambered out the car to join your friends on the beach, it was customary for your beloved mom to part ways with a crisp new 10-rand bill. (the equivalent to $1 nowadays if you’re lucky), accompanied with the following piece of worldly advice, "Buy yourself something good for lunch." Now those words meant make it go as far as possible, and that’s where the bunny chow comes in, specifically the bunny "chip" chow. The bunny chow would run you a whopping 6.50 extortion at the time for a young lad trying to stretch 10 rand as far as it would go, but still the cheapest meal around by far. The bunny chip chow alone is the reason to this day I have an unhealthy addiction to french fries.
The bunny chow is a half loaf of white bread, and come in quarters and full as well. However, it was the half that was the most popular to us groms. "Just enough to fill you and not enough to kill you," was the saying. The recipe instruction called to indelicately remove the center soft bread and in its place, a concoction of glorious curry-based goodness is poured. I would list other ingredients, but I haven't a clue what they were. You probably don’t want to know. In any event, the bunny chip chow was your passport to a more productive day. With a full stomach of curry, what couldn't you accomplish? With the bunny chow, timing was everything. Too early in the morning and you had problems, too late and equally so. Getting your bunny chow around 1130 was about customary, and caused the least amount of disturbance.
They bunny chow brings about many fond memories of spending hot summer days day after day on the beaches of Durbs, and was an important part surf culture for not only myself, but for many of the young Groms who grew up surfing the beaches of Durban and Natal coast. I’m pretty sure they still are to those there now. Stoked to have been a part of it.
To find out more about the bunny chow and its humble beginning, visit BunnyChow.com. They have info on where they originated and other great anecdotes of the South African centric food. Just about everyone growing up or living there will have some great personal story about the bunny chow. Just a quick Google search for the term bunny chow will reveal all of the variations.