The food ofis bold, colorful and tasty. From its early influences of the Bushmen and the Hottentots through to the contemporary chefs of today, offers its own unique brand of cuisine. You only have to take a look at a to imagine the diversity.
German, Dutch, French and British settlers through the centuries have left their mark as to have former slaves from Java and Malaysia. The Hindus and Moslems of the Indian continent both introduced their spices and curries while the various African tribes, Sotho, Zulu and Xhosa, are particularly noted for such delicacies such as mopane worms, samp and beans as well as sheep’s heads. (not for the faint-hearted.)
Amidst this wealth of unique and glorious eating experiences can be found. Mince meat is slowly cooked with a heady mixture of spices and fruit (becoming shepherd’s pie with attitude). This is commonly served with geelrys (rice cooked with turmeric, raisins and cloves) and accompanied by blatjang (fruit chutney.)
Another favorite stew is the bredie. Mutton slowly cooked with tomato, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, chili and cloves. This ever popular dish is also prepared with an edible water lily called waterblommetjies and waterblommetjie (sorrel.)
The barbeque of South Africa is the braaivleis both in the means of cooking and the social gathering. Foods traditionally cooked over an open fire this way are boerewors, sosaties (kebabs), lamb chops, porkies (pork sausages) and mielies (corn cobs). While the wine flows, the foil-wrapped potatoes and onions bake in the braai’s coals waiting to join the colorful salads on the table.
Other offering from the braai, along with the beer and good will, are the boerewors or ‘boerie’ (farmer’s sausage). Introduced by early German settlers, this long circular sausage is traditionally made from beef, pork, coriander seeds, cloves, nutmeg and allspice.
Biltong, similar to the american, is spiced dried meat which came from the Dutch settlers. Venison, beef or ostrich is rubbed with salt, pepper and coriander seeds, covered with vinegar then dried in the sun. This means of preserving meat served the Voortrekkers well during the Groot Trek (Great Trek) of the mid-1800′s.
The harsh conditions endured by The Voortrekkers gave rise to potjiekos. Simplicity being its main feature, this one-pot meal is prepared with meat and vegetables, seasoned with spices and then covered. Cooked gradually over hot coals the meat is tenderized and the combined juices form a heavy rich sauce.
Preserving has always been necessary in South Africa and konfyt is a fruit preserve of Malaysian origin. Tenderised in lime water overnight the fruit is gently steamed and then boiled in a syrup of water, sugar and lemon juice before bottling. Green fig preserve made with cinnamon, is a favorite to with cheese.
Rusks, equivalent to the Americanare descended from the French, Dutch and Germans. Various flavorings include muesli, raisins, buttermilk and aniseed. Similar is the plaited which is deep-fried before being dipped into a sweet ginger and lemon juice syrup. This crispy, sticky sweet is not recommended for those with a tooth ache or wanting to loose a few pounds.
When you next visit South Africa be sure to look out for these unique dishes, you won’t be disappointed.