Whether you’re Coloured, White, Black or not so vesieke; if you’re from Cape Town and do not know what a Gatsby is…you clearly work for the Guptas!
The ‘Gatsby’, which is the most famous Cape street food (vuil-dite), is basically a massive french loaf filled with hot chips, salads, sauce and core fillings. The fillings range from steak, polony (Controversial) to calamari and other ‘goetes’. It is called ‘vuil-dite’ for a reason, it’s technically not suppose to be healthy; it was birthed out of necessity and survival.
The uniqueness of the Gatsby is that it is designed to be shared with others, which makes it an ubuntu meal. It is strictly eaten without a knife and fork, which makes it an intimate meal. Finally, it’s famous for being eaten outside right on the bonnet of your car, which makes it a versatile meal.
When eating a Gatsby, expect some chips to fall out while eating. This is completely normal, it is in fact part of the experience. In the past, you were seen as the Coloured Panther if you could eat a Gatsby without the ‘goetes’ falling on your white Jack Purcells or Converse All Stars.
The origin of the ‘Gatsby’ seems to have been a complete accident. An Athlone fish and chips shop owner -Rashaad Pandy- who is claimed to be the loaf’s inventor, says it all started in 1976.
Rashaad had nothing to feed his workers, so he decided to find whatever he could and stuff it into a Portuguese roll. At the time, he only found spinach, rocket and…..just joking. What he did find around the kitchen were; slap chips, atchar and polony (listeriosis free). The roll was then cut into four pieces to share it with the workers.
Today the humble Gatsby has evolved into the most popular fast food in Cape Town, with options like masala steak, fish, vienna sausages (Ja I know), steak with cheese and many more. The Gatsby has more to it than just great taste, it is for many in the Coloured community part of their culture and heritage. (Insert Judy Boucher track here)
My Kaaps Glossary:
vesieke – sure
goetes – stuff
vuil-dite – street food