How ironic to read Matthew Parris in the Spectator praise the word “lekker” while soaking in the ball and claw bathtub of Wendy Pickstone’s luxurious Lekkerwijn guest house in Franschhoek. In town for the Franschhoek oesfees of Mark Solms and Richard Astor, “lekker” was certainly my Reader’s Digest Word of the Day. From children of the Solms-Delta farm workers kicking off the oesfees Jazz festival with a spirited rendition of “hy’s ‘n lekker ou Jan” to Auntie Grietjie from Garies, composer of said song, who brought down the curtain on the concert with her unearthly rendition of this anthem of Namaqualand – emerging as it did in a high-pitched whistle from somewhere beneath the folds of her shocking pink Voortrekker kappie – “lekker” was the watchword.
Parris notes that “‘lekker’, though translatable into English as ‘nice/good/great/tasty’, conveys so much more of the intended lick-smacking quality than any of those English words.” For a “lekker” taste you can’t do much better than a glassful of Richard Astor’s Cape Jazz Shiraz along with a plate of steaming waterblommetjie bredie. A non-vintage, petillant, carbonated wine made in the style of Italian Lambrusco, the Jazz is shockingly delicious with 42 grams/litre of residual sugar well balanced by high acidity. With tannins smoothed out by the judicious use of woodchips, it comes in at abstemious 9% alcohol – a completely different interpretation to the crackerjack sparking Shiraz from producers like Rockford, a festive libation in that other Country of the Hot Christmas, Australia.
Launched under the spreading oak on Mark Solms stoep before the concert started, BBC director Nick let slip that a pundit present had pronounced the Jazz 2½ stars (out of 5). Oh to be so bold as to score someone else’s cultural weapons with such self-assured precision, but I do hope that the word “lekker” rather than “linear” or “seriously smart” sneaks into its description in the guide.
Alas, all the quantitative pundits had rushed back to their Woolies lasagnas in Kenilworth by the time Auntie Grietjie, goema Queen of Namaqualand, ascended the stage to her plastic garden chair throne. So they never heard the song about the “droë pramme” (dried-out embonpoints) which sounded like a terrific riposte to neo-colonial wine scoring – but then my idiomatic Afrikaans is darem sleg, so maybe the song was about something else entirely.