The South African cuisine draws from indigenous, Malay, Indian, Dutch, and French influences making for an interesting array of dishes. We found that Cape Town is definitely the best place for culinary explorations, as the Kruger National Park has limited options. The Cape Winelands District in particular offered quite an amazing and surprisingly affordable variety of gourmet options.
Biltong is cured meat, often consumed as a snack. Different kinds of meats can be used to make biltong. It is often compared to beef jerky, as it’s made with the same meats and spices, however due to a different preparation process it’s moister and less sweet than beef jerky.
Some people compare biltong to a mix of prosciutto and beef jerky. We would definitely recommend trying it either from a supermarket or a specialty store in the Waterfront Food Market in Cape Town, however it is quite an acquired taste so we were not exactly rushing for refills.
Although unfortunately our schedule did not permit a visit to the well-known Mzoli’s Place for a traditional outdoor braai (barbeque), we did try our own hand at it. However, if you do have the time and want to experience a traditional braai, Mzoli’s Place is the place to go. It’s a no frills kind of place and also self-service, and optionally you can pick from a variety of fresh meats which are then grilled to order.
The Boerewors is a must try when in South Africa. You will see this spiral sausage in every supermarket, so if you don’t want to go out you can also cook it yourself. This high quality sausage contains 90 percent meat including beef, lamb, and pork - the rest is a mixture of spices. Grilled is obviously best, but it tastes quite delicious when pan fried or oven baked as well. In some outdoor braai you will also see pap (cornmeal porridge) and chakalaka (relish made from beans, curry, peppers, and carrots) as a side dish to the meats.
Bobotie is a beef mince pie, which is topped with a layer of savory custard. This is often prepared during Sunday family gatherings. We really wanted to like the dish, but unfortunately we didn’t like it at all. The mix of the sweetness from the fruits combined with spiciness of the curry, all mixed up with the beef, just tasted really off to us.
Originally created by the Durban Indian community, this South African fast food has become quite a popular across the country and is a must try in our opinion. We weren’t quite sure about it at first, but decided we might as well try it as we were only a few steps away from the Eastern Food Bazaar, where bunny chow will only set you back four dollars.
Bunny chow is a hollowed half loaf of white bread filled with rice and chicken curry. We went in thinking that we were just going to try a bit of it and eat something else for dinner, but ended up devouring the entire thing.
This was yet another surprisingly delicious South African specialty with Dutch origins. The spongy cake is prepared with apricot jam and has a sticky, caramelized texture. It tastes amazing when served warm with ice cream on top. The contrast is addictive!
It’s nearly impossible to not notice the widely advertised Amarula bottles with the majestic elephant on it. Amarula is a cream liqueur mixed with the unique taste of marula tree fruit. It’s quite an intriguing taste and if you want to try before you buy and you’re flying South African Airways, you can always ask for a small bottle of amarula on board.
We, Mark & Herta, are currently backpacking through Europe, and eventually planning to settle in London. Beyond that? The possibilities are endless.Read Mark & Herta’s full story.