Astronomic gastronomic menu for big bash

By Eleanor Momberg

A food sensation awaits the presidents, prime ministers, royalty and other guests attending Tuesday's inauguration of President Thabo Mbeki.

Organisers said the themes at the luncheon and cocktail venues were distinctly South African.

One official said that because no banquet was being held on Tuesday night, when selected guests attend a special gala event at the State Theatre, organisers had gone all out to make the luncheons memorable.

Three catering companies and some top chefs have come up with menus for three separate events. There will be a luncheon hosted by Mbeki for about 1 500 heads of state and invited guests, a luncheon at the Union Buildings for about 3 500 guests and a cocktail function at the State Theatre.

That will include traditional fare such as kabeljou, morogo, koeksisters, boerewors, chakalaka and tripe.

Representatives of 119 governments and other VIPs will enjoy lunch in a marquee at the Bryntirion Estate.

The menu, to be served by about 700 waiters, will include smoked chicken breast, chargrilled fillet of beef, oxtail, morogo, chakalaka and a scrumptious dessert, including strawberries and local berries.

All this requires 525kg of fillet, 300kg of oxtail, 120kg of smoked chicken breasts and 4 000 portions of vegetables.

The 3 500 members of civil society, government, business and friends of South Africa will enjoy their lunch in marquees erected at the Union Buildings.

The menu was devised by renowned chef Ryan Donald, and includes rooibos-smoked kabeljou, Franschhoek salmon trout, butter-fried Karoo leg of lamb, tripe, smoked ostrich, Durban roast chicken, morogo (wild spinach), samp and beans and, for pudding, Cape gooseberry truffle, koeksisters and milk tarts.

Some of the quantities required are hard to imagine, particularly when one considers that the company preparing the food will be using 10

10-ton containers for storage.

The country's top red and white wines will be served.

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