The Distinctive Dining of South Africa


Wednesday, January 23, 2008, 03:14 PM

Posted by Sarah Shipley


Through out our time in South Africa we were able to learn about, and some of us experience, a few of the distinctive foods of the country. In South Africa one is able to find just about any type of food that one may wish for, including African, Italian, Moroccan, Chinese, and Indian, among others. Typically at the restaurants we ate at they served food that was not terribly different from our American cuisine. Normally, rice, meat (such as lamb, chicken and beef), some sort of seafood (fish, prawns, etc.), vegetables, curry, fries (referred to as “chips”), salads and bread were offered. Cooked pumpkin, as well as butternut squash were also offered on a consistent basis. On the other hand, at some of the restaurants, the more distinctive foods were offered on the menu, including some different types of meats such as crocodile (nwenya), ostrich (intshe) and venison (nyamazane). A few of our brave classmates tried crocodile and ostrich, and most enjoyed it!

However, we were unable to try some of the more traditional, distinctive South African dishes during our time spent here. Certain traditional South African dishes such as pap fvleis (porridge and meat) and pap and sour milk (porridge and sour milk), are very popular. Another popular, distinctive South African dish is tribe, which is cow intestines and is considered to be a delicacy. Accompanying many of the meat and seafood dishes is Samp (maize), which is corn cooked in water and salt for approximately three hours. Maize has also been the basis of South African cuisine for many years and each community, whether it is Zulu, Sotho, Tswana, or Xhosa, has a different preference for eating it. Another distinctive South African dish, which is favored by African men, is Skop, which is the head of a cow, goat, or sheep. The head is first scrubbed to remove the skin and unwanted parts like the ears and nose, which are cut off before the head is boiled and simmered. Although we never dined at a restaurant that offered that particular dish, we did see several sheep heads lined up along the street for sale while driving through the township of Langa. Chutney is also extremely popular and is a condiment that is offered in all of the restaurants, plus it was offered by the family at our home stay. Chutney is a sweet sauce that is made from fruit that is usually poured on top of some sort of meat. Lastly, biltong, which is dried and salted ostrich can be another distintive South African food, similar to beef jerky.

Another variety of popular African food stems from the Cape Malay population, South Africa’s Muslim community. We had lunch at Biesmillah Restaurant in Malay Quarters, where the majority of the food was curry (curried fish, chicken, beef, and vegetables). The curried dishes were served with rice and salad.

From our eating experiences on this trip, I was a little surprised at how similar the majority of the food was that was served at the restaurants we ate at to our own “normal American” cuisine. One can find anything from a hamburger, to sushi, to crocodile. Also South Africans, like Americans, are very passionate about braai’s (barbeque’s). A typically American BBQ consists of chicken, steak, hotdogs, and hamburgers, while a typical South African braai consists of boerewors (hand-made farm sausage), among other meats such as chicken and beef. Although we were exposed to some different cuisines through out the time we spent traveling the country, plus through research and conversation with several locals, South Africa definitely has several distinctive dishes.

This entry was posted in Class of 2008. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Distinctive Dining of South Africa

Comments are closed.