As my time in South Africa comes to a close, I take the time to ponder some of the things that gave me great pleasure. One of the first things that come to mind is the unique cuisine from this country. Here are a few of my favourite SA eats…
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This traditional Cape Malay dish is a real winner. I remember my parents used to make it (my dad is in fact from South Africa) whenever they threw dinner parties when I was growing up. I must admit I was never a great fan of this dish as a young boy, however I have grown up to love it and I always get excited whenever I see it on the menu. It is similar to Greek Moussaka but taken to an even more magical and irresistible level.
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This is a veritable no nonsense Afrikaner stew served in a black pot; the kind of roadside dish furiously lapped up by ravanously hungry burly long distance lorry drivers and motorcycle gangs. I suppose this is the South African version of the famous Irish stew. I love this dish which comes either with beef, lamb or even oxtail. I know that if Anthony Bourdain ever came over to South Africa to devour this in the right place, he would be singing its praises for the next two weeks.
This bad boy needs no introduction. I’ve already mentioned the mighty bunny chow in my Durban posts but it’s such a treat I’ll mention it again. This is a hollowed out half or quarter loaf of bread filled with the curry of your choice. If you are lucky enough to be in Durban, I recommend either My Diners or the legendary Patels on Yusuf Dadoo street. The latter is the king of the veg bunny.
Image source: wikipedia
These tasty and uniquely South African sausages are ubiquitous across the country. They can be found in all supermarkets and food shops of varying quality. I love the way they are packaged like one great coiled up snake (Ron Jeremy, are you reading this?). If you are able to, try looking for the Grabouw type ones. For me they have the fullest and best flavours. Even better go to a local butchers to purchase them rather than the supermarkets.
To achieve the most satisfying taste it is always recommended to braai (barbecue) them. Sadly I have the worst braaiing skills in the world so have often reluctantly had to cook mine in the oven – like akin to drinking warm beer.
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Another Afrikaner gem. If you are ever invited round for dinner in SA, a Melktert or milk tart is a dead cert if you are unsure as to what to offer. This dessert is divine. Sometimes when I’ve had a rough day, I buy a whole one from the supermarket to take home and eat in my room.
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Biltong is the obstacle in any attempts I’ve made in the past to go vegetarian or vegan. Yet how I love this snack. A life without biltong is a very empty one indeed (Morrissey, I hope you are not reading this).
Mrs Balls chutney
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Oh Mrs Balls. Mrs Balls is an institution over here. What HP sauce is to the UK this stuff is to here. Fortunately you can also find this chutney in many supermarkets in the UK. After embracing this delight of a condiment, Sharwoods can quite frankly do one.
OTHER SOUTH AFRICAN CULINARY CURIOSITIES WORTH A MENTION
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This stuff is the starch of choice for many. What tortillas are to Mexico, pap is to South Africa (and in fact many other countries in sub Saharan Africa) and prevents a large percentage of the population from going hungry. On its own it is very bland but with lashing of chilli sauce or even better, chakalaka, it becomes heavenly
Image source: satravelblog.com
This traditional Zulu beer is worth a mention. I had an enormous gulp of this stuff from a massive wooden spoon in Shakaland. It was…well…interesting and an ‘acquired taste’.
THE ABSOLUTE PITS OF SOUTH AFRICAN CUISINE
This food is an abomination. Yet it is the most popular snack in the townships of the Gauteng province. This is the type of snack that would anger Jamie Oliver to high heaven and he would most likely spend lots of time, money and energy trying to eradicate it like it was some Ebola virus. There is almost zero nutrition in this snack save perhaps for the few remaining leftover vitamins from the deep fried potato chips. I once had one of these in Soweto and I was so grateful for the raw carrot, apple and beetroot juice drink I purchased from Kauai on my return to Joburg.
On the other hand, there is something incorrigibly rock n roll about this food and I could see myself munching on one of these with Lemmy, GG Allen, Charles Bukowski and Tony Bourdain at some dilapidated joint on the outskirts of Joburg. Somebody else can have the kale salad.
by Nicholas Peart
10th August 2016
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