The humble koeksister finally got its day in the sun, with Sunday September 1 marking the first (and hopefully annual) World Koeksister Day.
The humble doughy sugar-filled snack’s name comes from the Dutch word koekje, which means cookie.
Afrikaans and Cape Malay cultures have both claimed to have been the inventors of the pastry, with slightly different versions. Whoever created the koeksister and solidified its heritage in South Africa deserves a pat on the back, and regardless of who ‘owns’ the creation, it is easily South Africa’s favourite cheat snack.
Setting aside an entire day dedicated to koeksisters was announced at the Radission Red’s koeksister cook-off, held in Cape Town in July.
Vannie Kaap co-owner enthused about the role koeksisters have played in his life and Cape Malay culture, which prompted the importance of setting a day aside to enjoy all the pastry has to offer, he told The Cape Towner.
In Bo-Kaap tradition, koeksisters are made on Sundays, and in Afrikaans culture, fares, fridges and fetes are littered with them.
The Cape Malay version of the koeksister involves spicy dough rolled in dried coconut, whereas the more ‘traditional’ version involves braiding sticky sugary goodness and unnecessarily coating with a honey-like syrup.
Koeksisters even have historical roots associated with former president Nelson Mandela, where he reportedly arrived in Orania in August 1995 for cake and tea with former Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd’s widow Betsie. Mandela and Betsie are reported to have eaten koeksisters and drank tea and coffee behind closed doors for close to an hour.
With the koeksister so deeply entrenched in South Africa’s culture and rich history, it is a wonder it has taken this long to give it its own special day.
Go forth and indulge.