Celebrating Manolis Munchies

Durban is not known as a shopping mecca by any stretch of the imagination. Hell, were one to press any Durbanite into a corner, we would very quickly confess that there isn’t anything shop wise that puts our wonderful city on the map. Like any major metropolis we have our boutiques and name-brand stores. There are a few massive malls which punctuate our suburbs. These would satisfy most international travelers. However, Durban does not have a brand of thing which is endemic to it. It is not like there is a fashion label or type of canned smelt which screams Durban.

Though we do have a wholesale nut shop.

And dammit are we proud.

Manolis is arguably one of Durban’s best kept secrets. Like a lot of things which KZN should be proud of, Manolis is the kind of shop which nobody knew they needed until they walked into.

Let me explain why.

In recent years, South Africa has become victim to the (ironically) ever expanding health craze. A lot of people who really have no business sharing opinions about what is healthy and what is not, have taken to the media to talk about how we are all doomed to a life of eternal suffrage because we do not get enough grains and omega fats. Naturally, the two-faced gorgon that is social media has decided to bombard us with recipes using ever more bizarre grains and seeds.

Honestly, fuck freekeh.

Herein lies the problem. I am 100% behind this. Sincerely, I have absolutely no leg to stand on in this argument. My life revolves around a steady supply of roughage from grains. I lord over my bottles of barley and quinoa like some kind of hippy commune General Kurtz. Toasted sesame seeds occupy space next to jars of roasted peanuts and cracked buckwheat. My pantry looks as though it was made by a vegan who wished to be a real boy. I have no shame. My second favorite recipe book is by the wonderful Alex Hely-Hutchinson. It is treated with a reverence reserved for royalty and our lizard overlords. The number of copies I have bought for friends and family has probably paid for several of her effervescent photoshoots.

So what about Manoli’s I hear you shout from the back? Well, it stocks at low prices, those things which make such cooking possible. There are kilo bags of quinoa (red, black and white) sold for a third the price of conventional supermarkets. Help yourself to grains and pulses such as barley, buckwheat, lentils, hemp, bulgar, beans, chickpeas, dhal… the list goes on. It is all there. All these hip and trendy foods that supermarkets want to charge a premium for are all in one convenient isle and so easily affordable.

I know I just called a bunch of grains hip and trendy but that does not do the rest of the store justice. Bulk-buy walnuts, pistachio’s, macadamia’s, almonds, cashews, brazil’s… (breathes in deeply) … cocoa, chia, sesame, linseed, cinnamon, sunflower seeds, tofu, coconut, almond flour, dried figs, prunes, dates, apricots, pears…

I am not about to list the entire store’s contents.

This place is a wonder. In an age where you do not feel like you are getting any kind of value for money it offers it in spades. There is no trade off between price and quality. They have all these exquisite things (and so much more). It is refreshing to feel like a customer who is being taken care of. With the shrinking value of our lives always front of mind when shopping, it is so wonderful to go to a place where indulgence does not make you feel dirty.

Their brand is stocked in supermarkets about the city however it is best to visit their individual stores. Currently there are four in Durban; located in Windermere, Westville, Kloof and Hillcrest. All are worth the trip.

It is nice to know that although Durban does not have the restaurants of Cape Town or the fashion boutiques of Johannesburg, we can make ourselves black quinoa porridge with almond nut butter without a second mortgage on our homes. Manolis is our diamond in the rough, allowing us to feel a proxy of smug satisfaction.

Durban has the ocean, the weather and now, an affordable trendy diet.

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