Cuisine of South Africa

When you come to South Africa you will be tempted by a large variety of delectable dishes that are unique to this country and certain are unique to specific regions.

Whatever your pallet prefers, you will be able to find something to your liking here. Aside from the traditional dishes there are also international foods and the ordinary fast food chains like McDonalds and KFC. You will find plenty of pizza places, burger and steak houses and family restaurants like Spur in every area.

Seafood restaurants are commonly found along the coastal towns and serve garlic snails, kingklip, yellowtail, sole, calamari, crayfish (rock lobster), prawns, muscles and more. Fish cakes are perfect for the kids and are a traditional food along the Cape West Coast in the fishing communities there. You will also find plenty of Asian cuisine with Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Thai dishes. Sushi bars are also very popular here. French style cuisine, Italian, Moroccan, Greek, Indian, Portuguese, Brazilian and many other international eateries are found pretty much everywhere you travel, and one street in Johannesburg even boasts all these restaurants. It goes without saying that wonderful South African wine is available to accompany the food.

When it comes to the South African cuisine, you find that most people love to have a potjie. This is basically a big stew that is cooked in a cast iron pot on hot coals. It is served with rice or cous cous. Another stew type of dish is called breedie which is usually tomato based and you also find bobotie which is a spicy mince dish baked in the oven and served with yellow rice. The Cape Malay people are renowned for these foods along with their curry and samoosas as well as their other traditional dishes like briyani. This is usually spicy with rice, vegetables and chicken, beef or mutton all mixed together. Frikkadels are a favorite and are basically meat balls which can be served with spaghetti and a tomato based sauce. Another simple South African snack is vetkoek. This is just dough deep fried so that it is almost like a bread style doughnut of sorts. You can cut it and fill it with jam or make savory ones with mince and cheese. Something enjoyed specifically in the Cape is waterblommetjie bredie, or water lily stew. This dish is served hot or cold and is a kind of soup cooked with actual natural water lilies.

The culture of South African food would not be complete without a Saturday afternoon braai. A braai is a barbeque and this tradition of watching sports while enjoying a beer and braaing some meat is what makes a South African man who he is. Boerewors is one of the best things to braai. This is farmstyle sausage which has been made with various meats and spices and is lovely as a hotdog with sauces like spicy chakalaka, fruity chutney, tomato sauce, mustard or even mayonnaise. It is usually enjoyed with a variety of salads and roast potatoes. Another great braai food is sosaties. These are kebabs made up of skewered chunks of meat and vegetables. You can use lamb, pork, or beef or a combination as well as peppers, mushrooms, pineapple, potato and other vegetables. The vast majority of the people here also love to skottle. A skottle is basically a large wok placed on a gas cooker which is portable and perfect for picnic breakfasts in one of the forests or to take camping.

For desert the South African traditions are made up of melktert (milk tart), koeksusters (plaited dough covered in syrup), bread and butter pudding, rice pudding, sago pudding, and boeba, which is lokshen made with milk and sago. Another lovely desert dish which is commonly enjoyed over the hot Christmases in South Africa is trifle originally from Britain. Malva pudding and Cape Brandy pudding are traditional favorites.

Aside from these somewhat ordinary dishes, there are some delicacies and unique foods that are enjoyed, although they are not for everyone. In the game reserves like the Kruger National Park and in game style restaurants all over the country, impala steak, crocodile sirloin, warthog, ostrich and kudu are served, usually with mash potato, vegetables and gravy, but can also be offered with interesting sauces, in a stir fry, stew or as a cold dish. For an easy snack while viewing animals, try out the buffalo pies. Biltong is a favorite delicacy enjoyed by everyone and is found in every shop, supermarket and side street café. This is simply dried salted pieces of meat. Droewors is another type of biltong and you get different flavors including ostrich, beef, lamb, chili, crocodile and many others. Fried caterpillars and sheep’s heads are also enjoyed by some, but are not found in many establishments.

Along with your food many drinks are enjoyed and the most common social alcoholic drink is beer.

There is a brewery in Newlands, Cape Town and here is where the majority of South African beer is made. Along with beer, wine is the most enjoyed drink. The viticulture industry has grown here over the years and is now one of the most popular and well recognized internationally. In the various areas in and around the Cape you will find the most wonderful reds, whites and sweet wines as well as fortified wines. The pride of South African wine is the locally developed Pinotage first blended in the famous Stellenbosch wine region just outside of Cape Town.

For a treat, you can enjoy some of the local cream liqueurs like Amarula, flavored by the fruits of the marula tree found in the northern part of the country. In the Kruger National Park and other game reserves you might see the elephants eating these fruits and then begin to stagger as they get slightly drunk! Another favorite cream liqueur is Cape Velvet which has a lovely nutty flavor. This can be enjoyed as is, over ice or as a sauce over ice cream.

With so many different cuisines that have been introduced to South Africa over the years and that have been adapted to become traditional and interesting South African recipes, one can truly call this country a rainbow nation in its culture and people, but also in its food. There is plenty to enjoy on your visit, so make sure you try as much as you can.

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