Goldfish and Goldis: The DJs and the sausage king

 
 
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 10.23.14
 
Hamsters driving a car. A guy making sausage on a sun-scorched lot in downtown Austin. This is how international alliances are formed. And this is how the South African DJ duo Goldfish and Austin sausage savant Keenan Goldis came to be part of the same story.
 
The Goldfish part
 
Let me explain. Goldfish is playing the Empire Control Room this weekend (Sat. 9pm; 606 E. Seventh St.; $10 advance/$15 door link). The band’s PR rep, Kat Baker, asked if I wanted to talk to the guys — David Poole (above left; photo by Ross Hillier, used by permission) and Dominic Peters — about the food of their native South Africa. Given that the closest I’ve come to South African food in Austin is a bread-bowl stew called “bunny chow” at Cazamance, it seemed like a novel approach. The music is magnetic, somewhere between free jazz and the shirt-folding thump of an Abercrombie soundtrack, but with a real human element. Which surely is why Kia folded Goldfish’s “Fort Knox” into its commercial for the 2010 Soul (see it here), the one with the hamster at the wheel. Right? Take a second to watch another Goldfish track, “Three Second Memory.” (below)

Who can’t love a SpongeBob goldfish with a butt-crack and ADD? In live performance, Poole and Peters aren’t just up there twiddling knobs. Sure, they do that faith healer thing DJs do when they raise their arms, flinging the beat like flicks of holy water. But they’re approachable. “We Come Together” has a whoa-oh-oh chorus for pop singalongitude, and Poole snaps down a flute for Tull-style solo runs. Then he jumps on a riser to play a sax so small that he looks like a giant channeling Ornette Coleman. Meanwhile, the GoPro camera on Peters’ table answers his movements bounce for bounce as his hands move from keyboard to upright bass to the mixing board.
 
They sample Beck and the White Stripes and “Cantaloop,” with that “funky, funky” refrain. At their Amsterdam show last week (see it here), Goldfish remixed Michael Jackson’s late-career “Slave to the Rhythm,” and Peters dropped in a keyboard sample that evoked “ABC” over the looping vocals, punctuated by MJ’s breathless after-scats. On the serious side, these two South African surfer boys paid tribute to Nelson Mandela and the American folk hero of their generation, the American enigma simply called Rodriguez. That’s the Goldfish part of the story.
 
 
(Above: Making sausage the boerewors way at Goldis Sausage Co. with tongue, liver, pork, cheek and heart, along with clove, peppercorns, nutmeg and coriander. Below left: Keenan Goldis at his trailer. Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
 
The Goldis Sausage part
 
Keenan Goldis runs his Goldis Sausage Co. trailer at Fifth and Colorado during lunch weekdays and late on weekends. He’s made a name by fearlessly packing things into sausage casings. Things like mac and cheese, apple pie, green curry and blueberries. But he’s serious enough about smoke and sausage to make my Top 8 BBQ Wild Cards. And when I asked the Austin Twitter community if anybody carried the South African farmer’s sausage called boerewors — something to connect with the DJs from Cape Town — it was Keenan Goldis who answered. And so I met him at the trailer this week to make 20 pounds of boerewors, the recipe culled from the internet and the drunken counsel of a South African farmer who happened to be a customer.
 
There was grinding. There was massaging. There was spanking. There was rolling rubbery things onto a tube. It was a sausage fest. Enough of that? Agreed. Here’s the more singular entendre about sausage-making: It never ends.
 
It started this way: Goldis moved just a few weeks ago from the Crow Bar on South Congress to the lot at 503 Colorado St., and someone the night before had thrown the trailer’s picnic tables into a dumpster. We pulled them out stick by stick, then filled the water tanks, shouting over the angry roar of a generator. Then came the slicing: a massive beef chuck, velvety beef cheek, a roots-and-all tongue, pungent liver, a whole muscular beef heart. We made dozens of slicing decisions, keyed to keeping the right amount of fat and the right kind of fat. No connective tissue or membranes as tough as kevlar.
 
Not finished. We rolled the meat through a grinder the size of a toaster oven but as heavy as 10 of them. Into that mix we kneaded a great mass of ground-up fatty pork shoulder, then massaged an array of spices throughout: toasted coriander seeds, rainbow peppercorns, clove, nutmeg and salt. Plus two bottles of dark red wine (for the sausage, you fool) and some Worcestershire.
 
Not finished. The whole corpuscular mound had to be smacked flat like delinquent pizza dough, pummeled with fist and bone and kneaded again into a grotesquely homogenous unibody. Not finished. Goldis cooked a patty’s worth to test the spicing, glad he pumped the brakes on the liver and clove, both of which tow the flavor wagon but can wreck it at the same time.
 
Not finished. Intestine time. Long as party clown balloons. Any animal you like, as long as that animal is a half-pound weiner dog mottled purple as a gin blossom. Goldis turned the casing crank with a crescent wrench where the handle used to be, freeing the other hand to fill and tourniquet the fragile gut casing. Not finished. The links had to be labeled and stored, having multiplied all loaves-and-fishes-like from 20 pounds to 40 pounds in our zeal for the grind. A half-dozen went on the smoker, sulking in mesquite breath for the time it took to rectify the mess we’d made.
 
Not quite finished. Sliced and eaten with Goldis’ habanero-mint julep relish, the boerewors gave up the citric florals of coriander, the incense of clove, liver’s big iron funk and a tannic winey note like a South African shiraz. (You can taste the boerewors for yourself, starting today - 10/23 - through Oct. 30 at 503 Colorado St.; Hours: lunch 11am-3pm Tue-Fri; late night 9pm until sold out Thu-Sat.)
 
Still not finished. Because we had to talk about how a butcher’s shirt is an artist’s palette, and how this tireless 26-year-old from Rhode Island studied psychology at school and how that’s not really different from making sausage.
 
Almost finished. Except for the transition: Texas is 221.73 times bigger than Rhode Island. South Africa is 1.75 times bigger than Texas. Finished.
 
 
(Goldfish in concert. David Poole, left, and Dominic Peters on double bass. Used by permission © goldfishlive.com)
 
The Goldfish part, Part II: Questions and answers
 
Given your touring schedule — Amsterdam, San Francisco, L.A., Vegas, Austin — I’m guessing you don’t run into a lot of food from South Africa on the road. What do you eat when you’re touring?
 David Poole: We normally try and get a taste of where we are, as long as it doesn’t involve raw liver or something like that. When we went to Japan, we headed straight for some sushi. I tried toro for the first time. We were in Mexico last year. All Mexican food is good. Being from South Arica, our view of American food is probably like the burger’s the most famous thing to come out of there, so we’re always excited to try some good burgers. And generally you guys don’t disappoint.
 
Do you have a favorite food city in the U.S.?
 Dominic Peters: San Francisco. It’s very similar to Cape Town.
 
Is there a particular thing that stereotypes South African food the way America’s equated with hamburgers?
 Poole: There’s a couple of really good things to come out of South Africa, foodwise. One of them is biltong. You’d call it jerky. You can get all different kinds: game, beef, ostrich. There’s a dried sausage version, which is amazing, called “droewors.” South Africans like to barbecue. We call it a “braai.” One of the staples of a braai is called “boerewors.”
 
Goldis Sausage Co. of Austin is making a batch of boerewors in your honor. The owner, Keenan Goldis, said a drunken South African farmer told him to use innards to make it authentic.
 Poole: That sounds about right. One of the things that makes it right is the outer skin, made from the intestine of a sheep. I think if you really want to be authentic, there’s the fat from the outside of a sheep’s stomach. They call it “netvet.” That’s really, really good. We have another sausage. It’s called “pofadder” That’s just all different bits of offal. It’s one of my favorites — but not everybody’s favorite.
 
There’s a South African dish I’ve had in Austin, at Cazamance. Tell me about “bunny chow.”
 Peters: They have it in a city called Durban, which has a very big Indian population. It’s very popular with surfers, because it’s a cheap and easy meal. They just hollow out a loaf of bread and fill it up with curry.
 
Let’s say South African stars Sharlto Copley and Charlize Theron are sitting down to breakfast in Cape Town. What’s in front of them?
 Poole: I’m sure with Charlize, it’s just a bowl of fruit. She’s so gorgeous and thin. Definitely some eggs, bacon, boerewors — even go so far as a piece of steak. There’s a certain crew of people that if you bring chicken to a braai, they say, “Why did you bring vegetables? I thought we were having meat.” These days we throw a lot of vegetables on the braai, anything from asparagus to eggplant. It’s all great when you put it over the coals.
 
I heard the Goldfish remix of “Sugar Man” by Rodriguez from the Amsterdam show (See the stream here). Tell me how he connects with your music.
 Poole: I don’t know if you watched the movie “Searching for Sugar Man,” but growing up in South Africa, he really was bigger than Elvis. Hopefully we can, in our own small way, help to introduce Rodriguez to some new audiences. It’s amazing working with any vocal which has such passion and life behind it.
 
Watching Dominic play makes me think of Geddy Lee of Rush, doing keys and bass and vocals all at once. How do you keep up?
 Peters: With Dave and I having the jazz musician background, it allows us to be a lot more experimental. It’s kind of like vocabulary. When you’ve been trained in music, there’s a lot of different ways you can say something.
 
Both of you seem relatively fit. How do you stay that way?
 Poole: If you’re going to tour hard, you need to be fit, especially to fit in economy seats traveling cross-country. We both are ardent surfers. There’s luckily really good waves in Cape Town.

The Goldfish BBQ playlist
I asked Goldfish to pull together some barbecue music, whether it’s for the picnic party vibe of a South African braai or something to keep your blood flowing waiting in line at Franklin Barbecue.
 
1. “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People
2. “Sugar Man (Goldfish Remix)” by Rodriguez (hear it)
3. “Sunlight” by the Magician
4. “Stolen Dance” by Milky Chance
5. “Sometimes” by Alle Farben
6. “Moonwalk Away (Moonlanding Mix)” by Goldfish (video above)
7. “Chelsea Blakemore” by Beatenberg
8. “She’s on Fire Saris (Wankelmut Remix)” by Bo Saris
9. “Prayer in C (Robin Shulz Remix)” by Lilly Wood
Bonus track: “Ringo” by Joris Voorn
 
(Goldis Sausage photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking; all other photos and video clips used by permission)