Entertainer Nataniël has been involved in the DStv Franschhoek Bastille Festival for years. He tells us why the annual celebration is important.
I have been
involved with the Bastille Festival in a quiet way for many years. My friend
and mentor, Franschhoek chef Topsi Venter, had a restaurant called Topsi &
Company and cooked there until she was 79. For years, I used to visit, eat,
learn and even cook in her kitchen. Every year, there were extensive preparations
for the Bastille Festival.
Topsi and fellow chefs were cooking in a different way or for a different
reason, from food stalls and large functions to private dinners, and they prepared
gifts that could be sold. A lot of research needed to be done to come up with
unusual and historic recipes, instead of the basics that people still associate
with French food. And this is where I started to learn that there was more to
France, the culture and the cooking than a lot of obvious tastes and commercial
symbolism associated with that country.
commemorates the French Revolution, which began with the storming of the
Bastille prison on July 14 1789, and the unification of the French nation a
year later on July 14 1790. Today, it’s celebrated by French communities all
over the world. Unlike here in South Africa, it’s a summer holiday and
traditionally starts on the evening of the 13th with the streets filled with
people and lanterns. The 14th starts with a parade in the morning, relaxing at
the beach or in a park, a special dinner of summer dishes and the wait for
nightfall, which does not happen before 11pm. Then people take to the streets
to walk through the city (something the French love to do on any day), sing the
national anthem and watch fireworks. It’s not a day of drunkenness and riots,
but of pride, joy and remembering the importance of freedom. It only became an
official holiday in 1880, and also celebrates the recovery after being defeated
by the Prussians 10 years earlier. I fell in love with France when I went to
Paris for the first time 27 years ago. Paris is a hectic, unrelenting city, trampled
by tourists and – like Venice – populated by irritated people trying to protect
their heritage and live a normal life, but it offers art, romance, fashion and
beauty like no other place in the world.
brother became a French citizen and settled in Nantes, the sixth largest city
in France, I started going there twice a year, a routine that has become my
second life. I learnt that Paris, like New York, has little to do with the rest
of the country and that the French have been misrepresented in many ways – they
are not the rude, beret-wearing, accordion-playing creatures the rest of the
world believe them to be.
War 2, Hollywood started portraying the French as these stereotypes in popular
movies. To me, they’re the perfect examples of the First World – extremely
kind, polite and proud. Quality of life is the most important thing. They work
and study for fewer hours than any other nation, but do so with great efficiency,
creating a strong economy, endorsing all important family values, making art
and creativity a priority, and obeying rules in a sophisticated and complex social
system. And now they have a young and attractive president in Emmanuel Macron.
Apart from the Canadians, the rest of the world can only dream...
works; everything has a history and a reason. And food comes first. They are
passionate, argue and demonstrate, and there are organised strikes going on all
the time (I love watching their strikes, passionate and passive at the same
time, with a two-hour break for lunch...)
They eat with
devotion and talk about food the rest of the time. They eat freshly baked bread
with every meal (which makes you think they love starch, but they don’t touch
rice and I’ve yet to see a baked potato make an appearance), they offer you
Champagne or wine any time of the day, but only in small amounts. There’s a boulangerie,
a chocolatier, a confiserie, a patisserie, a crêperie and a macaron shop on
every corner, but the French are lean and fit – they know that the secret to a good life is
moderation and quality.
Bastille Festival tickets cost R280 at webtickets.co.za
A PROJECT IN PARTNERSHIP WITH DStv
WHY DStv IS INVOLVED IN THE EVENT
Says DStv’s Nomsa Chabeli Mazibuko: “The DStv Franschhoek Bastille Festival provides the opportunity for DStv to showcase the power of great entertainment by bringing to life our customers’ favourite content in a multisensory experience. This event helps us build meaningful relationships with our stakeholders who continuously help us to build our business. Ultimately, our sponsorship of the festival is driven by our desire to continually engage and thank our customers. You can look forward to experiencing DStv channels such as KykNet, Sundance TV, SuperSport and the History Channel in a way that you have not seen before.”