Toughness is not normally a positive term when associated with food. “Mmm, that was really tough…” is not a phrase you want to hear someone at the next table saying when you’re waiting for your food to arrive. Especially the “mmm” bit – that’s just odd.
I haven’t heard anyone say this, I should hasten to add. But if someone were to, it would probably be about something like biltong.
We’re lucky enough to have a nearby supplier of the stuff – a little deli/cafÃ© in North Camp called the Zebra Hut (119 Lynchford Road). They specialise in South African products, and do a good range of biltong including garlic and chilli chutney varieties (our favourite).
I am probably being harsh on biltong with regards to toughness, as when it’s in its thin, sliced-across-the-grain format, it can be surprisingly tender for a dried meat product. However H and I are fond of the sticks (pictured), which are a little on the leathery side when it comes to texture.
Don’t let that put you off though. They have a rich, intense beef flavour, which in the chilli chutney variety is enhanced with a mild sweetness and strong punch of chilli. Sure you have to gnaw away at them, but that is half the fun. You can’t just tip them into you mouth and absent-mindedly chow down – you have to give them your full attention. If you’re leaning towards vegetarianism though, they’re probably not for you as they require a little too much of your inner carnivore.