A hard days ploughing needs a nice cold beer and the closest thing to that in the Northern Province is toddy. Whilst beer is icy and refreshing, toddy is warm and tastes like dirty palm tree.
Toddy is the working man’s booze. A real man’s only drink. Made from the fermented sap of the palmyra tree, toddy is tapped in the morning and drunk in the afternoon when its alcohol level peaks.
The toddy tapper is everyone’s best mate. Everyday he climbs high up into the palmyra tree to extract the sweet sap. If you get on his bad side you’re the designated sober plougher.
Toddy is served in a toddy den, which is really a shack with an outdoor shade area, but a den sounds so much more salubrious. Everyday after the farm work is done the guys all get together and get down to the business of drinking – some things are universal. Not much is said in the session as everyone is too busy getting hammered.
Half a litre of toddy costs about $1.50 and is scooped out of a big plastic bucket into whatever you have to fill. We filled up a water bottle so we could keep it real with the den folk. After placing our order a gnarled old farmer was next in line, filled up his cup, necked it, filled it again and went back out to the den.
Drinking fresh from the den, my first sip of toddy was pretty average and it didn’t really get any better. It’s warm, it stinks like fermented tree, and tastes like weak beer. Pass. VB please.