Too much potato, not enough salt

They make ‘clam’ chowder in the United States but, as I’m not absolutely certain what ‘clams’ are (do we call them something different?) I prefer to make a general seafood chowder with muscles, prawns and a meaty fish like kingklip. Squid and crab are also options.

Chowder can be eaten with rice or bread but that defeats the purpose for me because it’s traditionally supposed to be an all-in meal providing protein, carbohydrates and essential fats with every delicious spoonful. I believe it originated, like many classic dishes (pizza, paella, Irish stew) out of a need to make something wholesome and tasty out of leftovers and whatever other ingredients were available. Diced potato is used both to thicken the broth and give it substance.

It is hard to get it just right. The fish needs to be added later to prevent it being over-cooked and breaking up but the whole thing is a disaster if the potato is still a bit crunchy – not to mention bland if there is too much of it.

Head chef Andrew Hudson is having a hard time getting it right. It is hard to avoid the feeling that many of his ingredients are too similar and some key ones are still missing.

Is there really room for David Miller and Colin Ingram? Isn’t a squad with Johan Botha, Imran Tahir, Robin Petersen, J-P Duminy and Faf du Plessis rather over-egging the spinners’ pudding? There is certainly a seamer short in the squad but more specifically, who is being lined up to bowl at the death, an area of the game in which the Proteas have recently specialised in cocking up?

A good squad needs at least three frontline death bowling options in every XI, one of whom must be a ‘banker.’ Despite never having excelled in the role, Dale Steyn is the best bowler in the world and you can’t ask for much than that. Wayne Parnell does a tidy job from time to time but can also be more expensive than Jacques Kallis’ panel-beating bills at others. Kallis himself could be used but he’s a risk. Morne Morkel even more so given the wides and no balls he can be prone to deliver under pressure.

Rusty Theron made a name for himself at domestic level doing the ‘death job’ and has looked the part on both the IPL and international stage when given the opportunity. Personality plays a huge role in selection (more than selectors can even acknowledge because it’s often subconscious) so maybe his eccentricities have counted against him and resulted in his current exclusion.

Personality has certainly counted against Albie Morkel over the years. A quiet, reserved and polite gentleman doesn’t fit the image of the explosive, roaring all rounder the Proteas require so he has been jettisoned on the basis that he’s neither good enough to bowl 10 overs nor bat in the top six. (Apart from Jacques Kallis, who is? Anywhere in the world?) The batting certainly lacks an ‘X’ factor, but then you can’t just manufacture one of those. And you can’t manufacture experience, either.

Sometimes the magic ingredient, like smoked paprika, is only discovered at the last minute – and sometimes by happy accident. Perhaps Tahir will provide it. One thing is certain, Hudson is looking hard for it – and deserves a lucky break.

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