08 Dec Discover the flavours of Africa
One thing is certain: you are in for a treat with the Rainbow Nation’s rainbow cuisine!
With a natural bounty of seafood, meat, game, veggies and fruit, South Africans are fortunate to enjoy a rich variety of culinary delights. Not surprising, one would imagine, for a country that started out as a refreshment post for Dutch ships passing the Cape of Storms en route to the delectable spices of India and Indonesia way back in 1652.
A dynamic food culture
A unique and dynamic food culture developed from a melting-pot of diverse influences including Khoi, San and other indigenous tribes, Dutch, Malay, British, Indian, German and the French, who also established our internationally recognised wine industry.
Venturing into the interior of Africa with nothing more than what they could load onto their ox wagons, the Voortrekkers, those first pioneers who ventured into the interior of South Africa, out of necessity created their own brand of food that were nonetheless so delicious that they are still being enjoyed today.
So, let’s suggest a few restaurants where you can try some of our typically South African dishes. Although these eateries in no way claim to be among the best in the country, they do offer delicious food that will give you a good idea of our cuisine.
The good news for international travellers is that they can enjoy excellent meals from around £10 / $15 per person due to the reduced value of the Rand. And what a choice they have!
The Carnivore, Muldersdrift
South Africans are meat eaters and if you fall into this category, you couldn’t go wrong with the Carnivore. There are typically up to 12 different types of meat on the menu, including kudu, crocodile, ostrich, springbok, boerewors (spicy farmer’s sausage) and warthog as well as all the usual suspects.
With the meat dishes, you are served another South African staple: pap (a porridge made of maize meal) with shebo, a sauce made of onions and tomatoes. There is a Lazy Susan in the centre of the table with six salads and six sauces to choose from. You are given a small flag and as long as the flag is upright, the waiters keep bringing skewers of hot meat from the coals for you to accept or decline. When you are done, simply put the flag down.
For local food and local colour, you can’t go wrong with Sakhumzi. Situated in the famous Vilakazi Street right next to Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s house, many people visit this eating house for the experience as much as the food. Diners at the tables on the pavement mingle joyously with passers-by, creating a great vibe.
You have an a la carte menu as well as a buffet where you can help yourself to Sowetan favourites like Mopani worms, chicken feet or tripe. Less adventurous eaters needn’t fear though – the menu includes staples like lamb stew, rice, veggies and burgers.
For a taste of typical Afrikaans fare, the Monument Restaurant’s Sunday lunch buffet is just what you want. Situated at the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, it offers a huge variety of dishes reflecting the influences that left their mark through the centuries.
Limit yourself to small portions because there are so many dishes you would want to try, such as Bobotie – a savoury mince dish whose light curry and fruit flavours reflect the Malay influence. Topped with an egg custard, it is served with rice cooked with turmeric and raisings.
Snoek – sea-pike, usually marinated in lemon juice and apricot jam, and served with sweet potatoes caramelised in butter, sugar and cinnamon.
Potjiekos – prepared in a 3-legged, cast-iron pot over an open fire, this stew originated with the Voortrekkers who became masters of one-pot cooking. Potjiekos offers endless combinations of meat, veggies and spices and is usually served with rice or potbrood, bread baked in a cast-iron pot over an open fire.
In July and August, you could also expect waterblommetjiebredie, a lamb stew made with Cape pondweed. Add from the big variety of veggies to your plate and end your meal from with a selection of delectable desserts. Do try malva pudding, melktert or koeksisters, plaited dough soaked in syrup. Wash it down with a good South African wine and you will realise just how good life can be.
Of course, you know who to call to get you there, or to recommend any other restaurants you might want to try.