Out of Africa is a 1985 film starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep and is based loosely on the autobiographical book Out of Africa, written by Danish author Karen Blixen, which was published in 1937. It received 28 film awards, including seven Academy Awards.
The story opens in Denmark, circa l913. Wealthy Danish woman, Karen Dinsen asks her friend, Bror Blixen, to enter into a marriage of convenience that will provide him financial stability and give her the title of Baroness. He agrees, and they move to Africa where she discovers Bror has used her money to purchase a coffee plantation. He shows little inclination to put any real work into it, preferring instead to become a game hunter. To make matters worse, Karen contracts syphilis from him and is forced to return to Denmark for a long and difficult period of treatment.
After she has recovered and returns to Africa, she realizes Bror has not changed and asks him to move out of their house. The coffee plantation runs into financial difficulties, and she is forced to rely on bank loans to make ends meet. Her friendship with Denys Finch Hatton a local big game hunter develops into an affair which turns into a lasting relationship. She and Denys not only share a love for each other, but also for independence. He is as impossible to domesticate as the wild animals he hunts.
When the plantation finally yields a good harvest at long last, a devastating fire breaks out in the processing shed. The crops and all of the factory equipment are destroyed. Now financially broke and her relationship with Denys over, Karen prepares to leave Africa to return home to Denmark.
The story is told from Karen’s viewpoint. Meryl Streep’s excellent speaking voice and Danish accent made the story even more personal. The cinematography was breathtaking. My favorite scene is the one where Denys takes her up in his plane and they fly over breathtaking landscapes, past thundering herds of animals and birds soaring into a beautiful African sky. At one point during the trip, she realizes why Denys loves Africa so much and reaches behind her to clasp his hand. To me, that was the most romantic scene in the entire movie, and I never think about it without getting tears in my eyes. It’s a beautiful movie.
This recipe is for a plain version of the traditional Bobotie recipe, in that it omits the usual fruit and has less spices. It makes a pleasingly spiced slightly sweet dish, with a very light curry flavor. This South African original is similar to meatloaf. A slightly sweet curry flavors ground beef with a milk and egg custard on top. It’s delicious! I had the devil of a time finding an authentic recipe to go with this week’s review, and I hope this one is close enough and simple enough to try.
To make the bobotie filling
1 lb ground beef 2 eggs 2 slices stale white bread
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 T cooking oil
2 T hot water
2 T sugar
2 T lemon juice
2 t curry powder
½ t ground cloves
1 t garlic, crushed
1 t turmeric
½ t salt
Pre-heat the oven to 325 o F. Remove the crusts from the bread and the soak it in water for 10 minutes, squeeze out the excess and then crumble. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and braise the onion until golden. Break the two eggs into a large bowl and beat lightly. Mix in the mince Add the onion mixture from the frying pan, the hot water, lemon juice, crumbled bread, turmeric and sugar to the mince, mixing well. Spoon the mixture into a well-greased, oven-proof dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown and then remove from the oven.
To make the bobotie topping:
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ c mile
Bay or lemon leaves for garnish.
Combine the egg with the milk and beat well. Pour the mixture over the bobotie and arrange the bay/lemon leaves as garnish.
Return to the oven and bake at 350 o F for 10 minutes, or until the topping has set.