The History of the kota, bunny chow and gatsby

What is a Kota ?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a sandwich as “an item of food consisting of two pieces of bread with a filling between them”.

In so doing it fails to fully recognise South Africa’s distinctive genre of street sandwiches in which a hollowed-out loaf serves as a portable, edible container for everything and anything from bean curries and masala steak to polony, slaptjips, Russian sausages and fried eggs.

Sometimes mashed potato is packed into these suitcase-style sandwiches too.

Whatever the filling, all such sarnies come in quarter, half and full loaf variations. Whether you call this cheap, filling and delicious street food a bunny chow, a kota, a sphatlo or an iskhambhani is an indicator of ethnicity and geographical location, but they are all proudly South African.

To help take listeners through the historical background of the kota is Anna Trapido who is a food anthropologist and historian, Vashna Jagarnath.

The fact that there is very little information about the kota speaks to the fact in which we read certain foods in society and that is deeply classed and raced.

Vashna Jagarnath, Historian

Also read: First-ever Soweto Kota Festival

The kota infiltrates various strata of society in interesting ways.

Vashna Jagarnath, Historian

The history of the kota is also very uncertain, as there are numerous tales of its origins relays Jagarnath. She explains that it is ideally, a quarter loaf of bread that is cut in half and curry is soaked in or comprises of various other stuffings such as potato chips, viennas, cheese among other things.

I like to look at who people are from the way that they eat. We are what we eat, so who are we? Everything you need to know turns up in these curious sandwiches that are so unlike what everybody anywhere else in the world thinks of what is a sandwich.

Anna Trapido, food anthropologist

All over the world, food consumed by the poor and those residing in rural areas get appropriated and added to restaurant menus, says Trapido.

Trapido says she has noticed how smart restaurants, largely in Cape Town who inexplicably win all the accolades and prizes for food in South Africa and are invariably run by white men - who behave as though they have invented things that have already existed, such as nose to tail eating.

Organic and free range is what peasant farmers all over the Transkei have always done.

Anna Trapido, food anthropologist

Listen to the clip below for more on the insightful Kota conversation


Recommended

by THE NEWSROOM

702 welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the 702 community a safe and welcoming space for all.

702 reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

702 is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
Life Esidimeni: Family of victims did not let Mahlangu express sadness

Life Esidimeni: Family of victims did not let Mahlangu express sadness

EWN reporter Masego Rahlaga breaks down the former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu's testimony from the Life Esidimeni arbitration.

2 signs to help recognise depression

2 signs to help recognise depression

Zamo Mbele clinical psychologist and Sadag spokesperson provides insights into depression and when you should seek help.

First-ever Soweto Kota Festival

First-ever Soweto Kota Festival

Now there's a festival to celebrate the popular stuffed quarter-bread comfort food much beloved by South Africans.

Nkukhu-Box container stores bring flavour to eKasi with finest grilled chicken

Nkukhu-Box container stores bring flavour to eKasi with finest grilled chicken

The story of how Nkukhu-Box founder and CEO Itumeleng Mpatlanyana was inspired to create a proudly Mzansi fast-food franchise.

Informal fast-food market in townships is a R10 billion industry

Informal fast-food market in townships is a R10 billion industry

Fast-food outlet Mbopha's Place in Alexandra township is a successful business making big money.

Debonairs pizza kota sparks debate on cultural appropriation by big brands

Debonairs pizza kota sparks debate on cultural appropriation by big brands

The addition of a pizza kota to the Debonairs menu has sparked a debate about cultural appropriation by big brands.

Popular articles
How Free State's Ace Magashule's family linked to Gupta companies #GuptaLeaks

How Free State's Ace Magashule's family linked to Gupta companies #GuptaLeaks

Revelations published today show how the premier's sons and Free State govt appear heavily involved in the Gupta-owned companies.

Who is Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi?

Who is Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi?

The EFF lawyer stole the show during the state capture report court battle.

'The university degree is dead'

'The university degree is dead'

Flux Trends founder Dion Chang gives five reasons why he believes getting a degree is past its sell by date.

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

WIN R2000! But only if you can prove you're a whiz of the MTN Biz Quiz by answering the following three questions...

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Is social trend Blesserfinder, where girls are allegedly matching up with rich 'benefactors' in exchange for sex, a real thing?

5 ways the NSFAS funding model will change in 2017

5 ways the NSFAS funding model will change in 2017

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will pilot a new funding model in 2017. NSFAS chairperson Sizwe Nxasana explains.