Food Glorious Food – What is ‘South African Cuisine’?! What exactly, or not so exactly - as the case may be, is ‘South African Cuisine’? In South Africa food is influenced by many and varied people groups, including the Dutch, British, French, Indian and Malaysian people.
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Snack and Starters
‘Biltong’ and ‘Droewors’, it must be said, is a treasured snack for all South Africans. In the United States they have a similar snack called ‘Beef Jerky’. Biltong is a cured meat, which has been dried out, generally made with Beef, Wild Game (venison) and Ostrich. ‘Droewors’ (dry sausage) is similar but made with thin ‘Boerewors’ (see ‘braai’ for details). I urge all our visitor to try these delicacies, most are instantly hooked!
‘Smoked Snoek Pate’, a personal favourite, made from snake mackerel which is fished off the coast of the Western and Northern Cape. The tasty dark Southern Ocean fish is smoked and mixed up into a pate, and it makes for an amazing starter when spread on salted crackers or toast. A little mayo, olive oil and your own ‘secret’ seasoning mixed into this smoked fish makes for a tasty treat.
‘Roosterkoek’ (braai bread), a home-made bread cooked as opposed to baked on the open grill, BBQ style. Served with butter, salt and pepper. Also enjoyed with dollops of apricot jam or even cheese on occasion, yummy hand food around the grill.
The iconic ‘Braai’ or BBQ is universally appreciated across the country and a visit without at least one ‘braai’ is not visiting at all. It is simply meat thrown on the grill accompanied by a variety of side dishes including garlic bread, corn on the cob, potato bake, potato salad, green salads and occasionally pasta salad. A South African braai always, yes always, has Boerewors (farmers sausage) accompanying at least one other meat. Lamb Chops is a favourite, and occasionally you get steak and chicken as well.
Cape Malay ‘Babootie’. Another favourite of ours, is a lightly curried and spiced dish with its roots firmly in the Cape Malay people of South Africa. Babootie is essentially ground minced beef, spiced and baked with a mixture of milk and egg. It is usually served with ‘Geel Rys’ (yellow rice) or Basmati rice and served with a variety of accompaniments, including sambals and chutney.
‘Bunny Chow’ (see pic insert). This dish has its roots in Durban and the South African Indian culture. Many and varied ‘urban legends’ surround this dish, which started to appear in the 1940s. Often it is simply called a ‘bunny’. No fear though, it does not actually contain any um… bunny. Essentially a curry, often quite hot, it is served in a hollowed-out quarter loaf crust of fresh white bread. A vegetarian option is often offered in the form of a ‘bean bunny’. The bean bunny is usually made with sugar beans and veg. Mutton and Chicken are also favourites.
‘Koek Sisters’, for the sweet of tooth. Koek sisters are made using twisted dough. The twisted dough, after deep frying, is thrust into ice cold syrup. The cooked dough sucks in the syrup. The cane sugar syrup is laced with ginger and lemon juice in addition to aunties secret spices.
‘Melktert’ (milk tart), available just about everywhere. A dessert of a creamy filling made from milk, flour, sugar and eggs and presented in a pastry crust. Not to be confused with ‘custard tart‘.
‘Malva Pudding’. A stodgy dark cake pudding laced with syrup, often containing ginger. Served warm with a dollop of fresh cream or custard.
Beer is ever popular, and a large variety can be found to choose from, especially in recent years as the ‘micro-brewery’ trend has taken off. A good option and available everywhere would be the Windhoek Namibian beers.
Wine is equally popular in South Africa and looks back on a long history and tradition. The Dutch and French planted vineyards throughout the Cape from the late 1600s onwards. Many varietals are grown, offering Red, White, Rose and tasty blends. The South African mainstay, in our opinion, must be the more recently developed varietal, first planted commercially in the 1940s, is the indigenous South African varietal Pinotage. A dark juicy wine is produced using these grapes, often with strong notes of chocolate and coffee from nose through to taste buds.
Origins of Pinotage
above options are freely available and tasty.
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