On everything right about smoked BBQ Bulelani-style, and everything wrong about advertising

Please note that since writing this blog post, Bulelani Smoke BBQ has closed down

The other week, as I was on my way to the Rollende Keukens, I spotted this gem of advertising idiocy:

Starvation Week

Needless to say, as a foodie and as a feminist, I was outraged. While people in general – and women in particular – are entitled to have any body shape they choose (and indeed those they don’t choose), picturing a very thin woman posing on a beach in an H&M bikini with the words “Starvation Week” plastered across her barely existent midriff does not, IMHO, send a very positive message. Is it a challenge? “Can you starve yourself for a week? Go on – I dare you!” Is it a model to which we’re supposed to aspire? “Look how sexy this starving woman is!” Or is it irony that’s just completely lost on me?

The website that it was advertising did nothing to illuminate me: a visit to Mediamatic.net/lightness showed a series of artists’ exhibitions exploring “lightness” in almost every sense of the word except for the physical one depicted in the advert. And I, for one, doubt that any lightness of spirit is likely to result from starving myself…

Luckily for me, the identity I’ve chosen in life is the Amsterdam Foodie (hurrah! no need for starvation after all!) and I headed off to the latest BBQ pop-up fully intending to stuff myself with smoky, umami-laden, soulful ribs… I’d been lucky enough to taste Ossie’s dry-rub BBQ ribs before, so I knew I was in for a treat.

Bulelani smoked BBQ ribs

Bulelani takes its name from the chef’s brother, who tragically died a few years ago and whose name means “be thankful” in Xhosa; you can taste the love he had for his sibling in his food. Currently, he’s focusing on one main dish: ribs that have been rubbed in his signature marinade, perfectly smoked, and then slow-cooked for hours on the barbecue. But he also serves sides: coleslaw, mash, chickpea salad, and the best homemade baked beans I have ever tasted – bar none. For half a rack of ribs plus two sides, that’s €15.50 well spent. He’s chosen a few wines to pair with the food (we went for a chunky South African Shiraz for €20, which I’d recommend), and enlisted the help of one of his charming ex-colleagues from Senses Restaurant to help him with service.

It may just be a thuisrestaurant (restaurant in his living room!) so far, but this pop-up is set to take over the BBQ scene in Amsterdam… you heard it here first! Now get on that Facebook page and book the upcoming event this Saturday, June 14, or wait for more dates to be released in the coming months. Just make sure you wear your fat pants, because diets (not to mention starvation weeks!) are happily no option in this house…

To get an idea of Bulelani’s “Bloom Dine & Dance” event in collaboration with Aileron at the Mirror Centre in Amsterdam, watch the video:

all the info

Bulelani Smoke BBQ (American)


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