It’s 1978, it’s a Friday night. I’m in the backseat of dads maroon Rover. Mom is in the passenger seat fiddling with the tuning knob on the car stereo, searching for Springbok Radio. The familiar, “we prowl the empty streets at night, waiting in fast cars…” would begin, a small surge of excitement would kick in and the weekend had officially started. “Squad Cars,” the police radio drama series would begin, and we would take a slow-drive through Hillbrow, to see the big-city-lights-and-sights.
Africa’s New York City – a cosmopolitan, multi-racial, eclectic mix of artists, criminals, intellectuals and immigrants – it defied everything apartheid South Africa stood for.
There were book shops, record shops, night clubs and fast food joints that stayed open until the wee hours; high-rise apartments housed an assortment of hedonism, sleaze and bad behavior, and in my eyes, the most exciting and terrifying place on the planet. We would just drive up and down its streets, watching the night life unfold.
Sometimes we would make a pit stop, at Dick’s Sweets: a tiny retro candy store, with a glass counter, in the heart of downtown Johannesburg. Our order mostly stayed the same: peppermint-chocolate-fudge and honeycomb for me; lemon drop boiled sweets for mom; coconut ice and Turkish delight for dad. Packed up in small brown bags, we would snack on the all the way home.
The whole world is getting healthier and the space for retro sweets, seems to have been relegated, to the backseat of the Rover and old school radio dramas. But every now and again, we deserve the decadence and comfort, that only an overly sweet treat can bring.
Blocks of pink-white-fudgy-chewy-bliss.
2 cups white granulated sugar ½ cup milk ½ teaspoon lemon juice pinch of salt 1 cup desiccated coconut Pink food coloring
Grease and line 8” baking pan with parchment paper. In a heavy based saucepan, over a medium heat, add the sugar, milk, lemon juice and salt. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, for 3-4 minutes stirring all the time, taking care not to burn the mixture. Turn the heat down slightly, place a lid on the saucepan and boil the mixture for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the coconut and mix. Pour half the mixture into the lined baking sheet. Add the food coloring to the other half of the mixture in the saucepan and mix. Quickly pour pink mixture over white mixture. Allow to set for 20 minutes and cut into squares. Place in an airtight container.