First off, let’s clear up the location. Afrikaburn. It’s like Burning Man but in Africa. If that still doesn’t put an image in your head then imagine the cast of Mad Max: Fury Road having a huge party in-between takes (actually any Mad Max film…and yes – there is an actual Thunderdome at Burning Man sans Tina Turner). That doesn’t even scratch the surface of the magic of this event(s) but I just want to give you a visual.
What I’m really here to talk about is soup. Though the soup itself was fantastic, it is the cooking method (and of course location) that was truly unique. The “X-Flare Pot” is a culinary cooking concept developed by Professor Paul Papka from Stellenbosch University (that’s in South Africa’s largest wine valley). As an exploration of solar and renewable energy, this monstrous wooden structure, which I can best describe as a giant medieval satellite dish on wheels, uses a circle of mirrors to direct the full power of the sun at a 50-liter iron potje on the opposite end.
I’d been watching this thing for a week, and come Friday, I was ready for a deviation from my otherwise canned-food/beer-heavy diet. Strolling out to the structure, I was greeted by a bacchanal burner touting a pitcher of vibrant yellow liquid. Honestly this isn’t really a place for discretion or refusal. So, utensil-less, I tilted my head back and let him joyfully pour a hot portion of curried pumpkin soup right into my mouth.
Ok, a few alarms should of gone off here; a.) Was this even soup? b.) If soup did it contain any “special” ingredients? c.) Why the hell am I trying to drink hot soup in the middle of a hot desert? d.) Why should I even care? Whether it was my appreciation for the ingenuity and effort put into this sun-cooked stew, or the ingredients themselves: that soup was damn good. It was the perfect fuel for dancing in the dust until sunrise. Oh yeah and: a.) Yes; b.) Pretty sure no; c.) ?; d.) I didn’t.
And, in true Burning Man fashion, this creative cooking device was ignited and reduced to nothing more than ash later that night.