6 Foods You Should Make Sure to Try If You’re Visiting South Africa
Indigenous traditions, colonization and immigration have all shaped what is today considered classic South African cuisine. In this multi-cultural nation you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner consisting of flavors and cooking techniques spanning three different continents: Asia, Europe and Africa. From savory, dried meats to loaded, foot-long sandwiches, here are some of the most iconic South African dishes it would be a shame not to try on your next visit.
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This seasoned, dried and cured meat is easily one of South Africa's most popular delicacies, and once you taste it, you'll immediately understand why. Often compared to jerky, the two are actually quite different in terms of texture, flavor and production methods. Jerky is generally dry rubbed and smoked to dry, whereas biltong is marinated in vinegar and spices and hung to air dry. The different preparation methods result in two clearly distinct products. However with that being said, if you like jerky, you'll probably like biltong as well. It's incredibly rich in flavor, and unlike jerky, you can get it fatty or lean along with soft, medium or chewy.
Falling into South Africa's Cape-Malay category of cuisine, if there's one food you really must try on your trip to South Africa, it's this deliciously sweet and spicy casserole. Typically made by oven baking well seasoned ground beef or lamb mixed with dried apricots, apricot chutney or jam, along with a little lemon juice and zest, it's then topped with egg and milk. The result is a creamy, flavorful and hearty dish. A perfect accompaniment to the usual side dishes of yellow rice and vegetables or blatjang - a South African chutney.
What falls on the 27th of February? National Milk Tart day of course, well that's if you're lucky enough to live in South Africa. When a dessert has its own national day appointed to it, you know it has to be good, and these South African milk tarts are no exception. This classic South African dessert consists of a crumbly, cookie-like crust filled with a delicious, creamy filling and a sprinkling of cinnamon. It's so simple, but so good!
Bredie is a hearty, rich, slow-cooked lamb or mutton stew. There are several different types of bredie in South Africa, each named after the vegetables used to make them. The most common types are tomato bredie, cabbage bredie, green bean bredie and waterblommetjie bredie. If for some reason you are limited to trying only one bredie during your trip to South Africa, make it the Waterblommetjie bredie. It's not everyday you get to eat aquatic flowers endemic to the ponds and marshes of South Africa like with this dish. It's hard to describe the taste of these small, fragrant flowers, but they're often described as tasting like a mix between cabbage and green beans.
Wildly popular in South Africa where they originated from, boerewors are held in such high esteem that laws have been put in place to define what constitutes them. If it isn't 90 percent meat (beef, pork, sheep or goat only), and if it contains any offal or mechanically reclaimed meat or over 30% fat, it is not a boerewor. A traditional boerewor will generally be made using a mix of coarsely ground beef, pork and mutton, a bit of salt, spices and a dash of vinegar stuffed into casings. Once grilled, these sausages are absolutely delicious. Juicy, aromatic and the perfect accompaniment to a refreshing, cold pint of local beer.
Remember, you're not in South Africa for a long time, you're there for a good time, which is why carbo-loading on this human baby sized sandwich is absolutely necessary. Originally made using a round Portuguese loaf stuffed with thick cut french fries, polony and achar (spicy indian pickles), it quickly evolved into the gastronomic beast you'll find today. A foot long roll excessively loaded with french fries, achar and a protein of choice such as steak, chicken, eggs, calamari, lamb, fish, boerewors or a mix of the above.
Due to its popularity as a fast food in the country, it won't be too hard to come across this legendary sandwich, but it might be advisable to not try to eat the whole thing by yourself. They can be pretty monstrous.
Food in South Africa perfectly reflects the diversity that makes up Africa's 'rainbow nation'. It's a truly exciting destination to visit for traveling foodies, but even regular visitors might find themselves sticking around a little longer just to continue indulging in these tasty, local treats. It's not the healthiest of food spreads, but who said vacations were meant to be waistline friendly!