Of course we have already learnt a lot about the bokkom industry on the West Coast. First I painted a little row of bokkoms being salted and hung out to dry. Then the second stage was shown where they were peeled and made ready to be eaten.(Remember my homemade bread, apricot preserve and slivers of salty bokkoms served with coffee?)
This painting, third in the set "Folks and Fish", shows the largest of the bokkom drying barns on the banks of the Berg River at Velddrif where thousands of little mullet fish can be seen any day of the week. The bokkoms take 8 days to dry, depending on the weather and air circulation Janine is the petite lady who has managed this factory with its large salt bins and many hanging lathes for more than 12 years. This quietly dignified lady had me spellbound as she pointed out the many aspects of this industry which provides both jobs and food for the local people.
It would be easy to export the dry snacks with their sweet fishy smell or even introduce them to Johannesburg and other South African cities. But of course, it is a born and bred local taste that takes a bit of getting used to. As Janine stands there with her old-fashioned set of scales, she probably sees the same customers day by day.