South Africa’s Gastronomical Pleasures

Not only is South Africa a great country to visit because of its incredible beauty and adventure, you also have to sample the South African cuisine while you are here. South Africans are by nature lovers of the outdoors and have mastered the art of cooking outdoors. This could stem back to their Voortrekker roots.

South African pap

South African pap (top of the plate) served with a meal.

The Voortrekkers moved around in wagons and on foot for long periods of time and had no refrigerators to preserve their food and no stoves to cook on. This lends itself to the opportunity to discover what is today known as uniquely and proudly South African foods. These foods are enjoyed by people of all the various cultures in the country who have made it their own. In fact, all three of these foods were enjoyed by Voortrekkers and simply improved upon over time.

Grab Some Biltong the Moment You Step Off the Airplane

The first food that you have to sample is biltong (bill-tong). This traditional South African treat hails from the days of the Voortrekkers back in the 1600s. Biltong is spiced and cured dried beef or game meat, similar to American jerky. Adventurous biltong-makers even dry chicken and ostrich meat. However, according to expats, there is no comparison. Biltong is often flavored with BBQ spice, peri-peri or original flavor. Biltong is a firm favorite with meat eaters and it’s debatable whether any meat eaters refuse to eat this tasty treat. The snack is sold in large pieces or sliced thinly or in chunks.

You’ve had a BBQ – now try a braai!

South Africans are known for their love of meat and the outdoors. They have found out how to combine the two by inventing the “braai” which Americans know as a barbecue.

South Africans love to celebrate weekends (and any other event – important or not) by hosting or attending a braai. Unlike the US counterpart where they barbecue burgers and hot dogs; steak, lamb chops, chicken, spare ribs and boerewors (long beef sausage) are the meats of choice for this occasion in South Africa.

The meat is cooked on a grill on an open fire and accompanied by salads such as potato, rice, pasta and tossed green salad, as well as beetroot and cold baked beans. Two other great favorites are pap (learn more below) and potato bakes. Not only is the food incredibly tasty, but attending a braai is one of the most popular ways to socialize in South Africa.

Boerewors (long beef sausage)

Boerewors (long beef sausage) are among the meats of choice in South Africa.

Corn is More Versatile Than You Might Think

Pap (pronounced ‘pup’), a maize (ground corn) based food is the staple diet of many South Africans. Pap is cheap and therefore accessible to most of the country’s population including the poor. Pap can be served in a number of ways:

» Cooked as porridge (like American grits), it is best served with milk and sugar.

» Stiff Pap – Braai lovers love to eat pap with their braai meat. In this instance, it is cooked for longer and is quite stiff or sometimes crumbly in texture. This dish is best served with a tomato and onion gravy alongside a plate of all the meats mentioned above.

The Brits Might Have Invented Stews But South Africans Have Perfected It

Potjiekos is another firm favorite among South Africans. The direct translation of this is ‘pot food’.

This is a stew type dish slow cooked in a 3-legged cast iron pot on a slow outside fire. Traditionally, it comprises of meat (beef, mutton or chicken), potatoes and vegetables of your choice. Some people use only carrots and onions while others add mushrooms and all types of marrows.

The secret to a successful potjie is to cook it for long without stirring the pot. Like a braai, a potjie is a great way for people to socialize.

Like a stew, potjie is best served on a bed of rice and accompanied by a glass of South Africa’s finest red wine.

A potjie 3 legged cast iron pot.

A potjie 3 legged cast iron pot.

While this list of South African foods is no means exhausted, these are three of the country’s favorite foods. Be sure to sample all of these while you are on vacation here as the memory of the food and the magic of the companionship will stay with you forever.

by Content Cafe

Potjie Pots

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