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Barakat is an Arabic word meaning blessing. There is a similar word (Berkat) in both Malay and Indonesian cultures with exactly the same meaning. But like a lot of other things, we, South Africans of the Indonesian and Malay culture living in Cape Town have for generations managed to mangle the word to mean something totally different. And in spite of me assuring my Malay friend that it is neither a racial or a cultural thing and that it is not limited to Cape Town, and that every nationality and race in the world have their own identical version of Barakat’s for want of a better word.

  He assures me that even Cape newspaper reporters use it with reference to the freeloading aspect of the food culture of Malay and Indonesian people. Here in Cape Town, it means to take foods home’ to give it its easiest meaning. I have never touched on this subject before where the taking home of huge quantities of food is so inbred in their community that, according to him, it will never disappear.

One such story was when the father of the bridegroom had the biggest Barakat on the tables in front of him. There were a few unoccupied tables and the father could not resist picking up every morsel of food from these tables for himself. Maybe it did not cross his mind that traditionally all of the food and there were huge pots of it, and the dozens of cakes and snacks were all going to his house in any case after the wedding. He just couldn’t resist the Spirit of Barakat.

  • do you know someone like this?

    • Yes


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  1. the only time I have brought home food from anyplace was back in Latvia where people knew others always had less and when a special event took place in a cafe after the people who hosted the event would say to everyone for them to take what they wanted.

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