CARBO LOAD FOR COMRADES WITH CHEF JP
We are carbo loading this week with Chef JP. A huge fan of the legendary Comrades Marathon, he pays tribute to two of his heroes – Mandela and Wally Haywood along the way.
It is hard to believe that, in 1921, 34 official and four unofficial athletes lined up in Commercial Road, Pietermaritzburg waiting for a pistol to fire and send them on a 54 km downhill run all the way to the small seaside city of Durban.
That was the first down run of what was to become known as the Ultimate Human Race – The Comrades Marathon – and what a race that has been!
Over the years, the race has evolved – we even had the addition of female runners further down the line and the emergence of some amazing winners from the world over.
But, on a slightly philosophical note, even for those of us who haven’t been courageous enough to tackle this mega marathon, life itself has been quite a journey – never more so than during Covid-19 which has been the only thing to halt this incredible race for the past two years.
It was during this time, when I couldn’t find a perch along the route to cheer on the runners, that I thought a lot about two of my heroes and their amazing journey’s – Madiba and his Long Walk to Freedom and Wally Haywood, a humble Durban man who is still recognised as one of the world’s greatest endurance athletes. His long run to victory saw him win the Comrades five times. He completed the last one within the allotted time just before his 81st birthday.
For Wally Haywood, Comrades was his life. He crossed the finishing line for the first time at the age of 21 and passed away at the amazing age of 97 – proof to all those couch potatoes watching the Comrades that plenty of exercise wins the day.
Madiba, too, achieved so much as a comrade in our historical age of becoming
free… and he passed on when he was 94. That’s a lot of steps to live your life to its fullest and taste the smell of victory!
Like so many Comrades fans – runners and spectators alike – we’re thrilled to be back on the road again.
Running a marathon is definitely not for everyone! For those of you who have been dreaming of the return of this amazing face and putting in the miles, it is time to clean those running shoes and prepare for a day filled with plenty of sweat, tears and a dash of pain.
As those of you who will be joining what is now a crowd of runners at the start in the wee hours in Pietermaritzburg know, it takes a lot of preparation for the race. My chef’s take on the whole escapade is that, if you have the guts and the right amount of health food in your gut, you can expect some kinda magic.
As usual, I’ve cooked up some dishes that you can enjoy either as a spectator or as a runner.
No doubt, many participants will be carbo loading ahead of the big day. For those who are not in the know, carbo loading is a nutritional strategy most often used by endurance athletes to increase stored energy in the form of glycogen for better performance.
Certainly, the favourite for carbo loading is good old pasta. I’ve got three variations ahead of the big day as well as a creative potato mash.
Okay, so last week we debated the dilemma of whether or not an aubergine is a fruit or a veg. Now we have another – the Roman imperialistic argument about Alfredo versus carbonara pasta…
That’s why they invented chefs. Unlike in the race, there will be no winners here so I’m just going to wave my white flag, put on my white apron and make it easier for both sides in this food contest.
Carbonara is made the same way as Alfredo is – the only difference is in the use of cheese and the addition of egg yolk. Again, just do it my way and follow my easy steps before you set you alarm for 4am!
FROM THE COMRADES PANTRY:
2 large free range eggs
250 ml of double fresh cream
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
200g of back bacon
50 grams of Portobello mushrooms
1 large red onion, diced
100 grams Durum wheat pasta
Fresh parsley sprigs
Salt and pepper
Hopefully, you’ll direct yourself east words the ocean to make your dish before the sun sets and you get a good night’s rest …
Seriously, though, prepare your pasta by immersing the tagliatelle in boiling water. Add some salt and let it cook till al dente. Let it simmer, then strain and let it rest.
In a medium sized saucepan, beat just the yolk of your egg. You can carefully crack them open and strain the egg white. Add your grated parmesan, a pinch of salt and some parsley.
Cut your back bacon in to 1 cm blocks and then fry these until golden brown. Set aside.
Sauté your mushrooms and onion in some olive oil over a medium heat.
Now, it’s time for the grand finale. Add all the ingredients in a sauce pan followed by your cream and slowly stir for 2 minutes over a low heat (otherwise you’ll have scrambled eggs!) Let this simmer for a minute or two and then dress it up with some fresh parsley and hard Pecorino cheese shavings…. and you have a dish that is fit for an emperor – or a courageous Comrades runner!
SPAGHETTI JUNCTION WITH MUSSELS
(No that’s not the sort that Comrades runner use!)
I’m told that many runners set their sights on making it past our inimitable Spaghetti Junction en route to finishing a long day.
Ahead of this, spoil yourself with some spaghetti accompanied by some fresh Walvis Bay mussels.
These little meaty buggers are also rich in omega 3 and 6 and magnesium, which are all good for inflammation. So, hear to the ocean for some fresh half shell mussels – or you can run to your fishmonger or store where you can pick up some frozen ones. These are flash frozen and won’t slow you down.
Defrost them. Scrub the dirt off the shells and steam them for 10 minutes. Rinse off the grime and let them rest (that’s what you are going to be doing tomorrow evening, trust me).
Prepare your spaghetti. Flip your mussel meat side into a pan with some turmeric, butter and olive oil. Pan sear them for 2 minutes. Sauté some onions before straining your pasta and delicately placing the mussels on top with some fresh cream, dhania and salt and pepper for seasoning. I love whole red pepper corns as they are so crunchy and flavoursome.
If you want to take the basic route and save some time, here are two dishes that might interest your taste buds:
MUSTARD INFUSED MASH
A hearty mustard infused mash potato with peas and crispy bacon – and a dash of French flair in the form of a homemade mayo.
To make the mayo, you only need a few ingredients:
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
100ml grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Mix everything together, slowly adding the oil to emulsify the mixture. Bon appetite!
PASTA WITH THE CANS
If you are down to a canned pantry, I have the perfect solution. Open a can of black beans, and some sweet corn. Strain both and then add some salt and pepper. Make your favourite pasta and then just add some sliced avo. Heat and eat, simplicity on the run…
The wonderful thing is that this meal is so rich in carbs. The nutritional value of the corn and beans are in excess of 50 % of your carb intake for the road ahead.
We at O&A wish all our comrades who are taking to the road on Sunday a good night’s rest, plenty of flavoursome carb loading and success your long run or walk to freedom …