We’ve all heard the expressions – 2 sides of a coin, greener on the other side, silver lining etc. But when it comes to South Africa, because the standard of living is high– it’s impossible to have a meal at a restaurant every day. So you really need to explore your options and find the most satisfying food at the cheapest of prices. Luckily for you, I’ve done that. I’ve pretty much narrowed down the things you could indulge your senses. This is not to say that I loved everything, but maybe you would. There were some really bad experiences, but when you are drunk – you don’t feel it so much until the next day (the lingering bad taste and takeaway boxes). Anyway, here is a fun read on how not to have a growling stomach because it’s about the Taste of South Africa.
Just like New York, diversity is South Africa’s strong suit when it comes to the variety of food. You have to experiment to survive. My time there was insane, between home food and experimenting with street food – I used to eat anything that looked appealing and was a mystery. Amgwinya/Vetkoek it’s a ball of dough, it’s fried and filled – it is absolutely brilliant. ‘Fat Cake’ quite rightly so has a variety of fillings including spiced mince, apricot jam, and grated cheese. Biltong was another dish that completely had my attention. At Helena’s I understood the true meaning of cured meat (Biltong). This was rolled in herbs and a tangy parsley puree. It’s version of jerky – but not exactly.
Bobotie, a traditional Cape Malay dish. This spiced minced lamb or beef dish is baked to brown with an egg and milk layer on top. The variety that Pajamas and Jam Eatery are considered the best across SA. I was told specifically to get whatever is on the specials board. The dish can be experimented with quite a lot when it comes to flavor – apple, raisins, apricot jam curry powder and coconut cream.
Boerewors (most of the time I think SA came up with different names for these dishes just because they could) is basically a Hotdog, but the sausage is traditional and something you have never-ever tasted in your life. After a crazy night of partying at my host’s house, this great thing was introduced to me. The taste of coriander and beef sizzled in my ear and tongue. There are street and café versions to this – but irrespective you have to try pleasantly refreshing dish.
SA to me is like the land of great meat and apparently, the tradition of gathering around open fire and cooking is engraved in tradition. Braaivleis, is essentially meat grilled over an open fire (you can already imagine the setting while wiping the drool off your mouth) – from lamb chops to beef, I had everything that my friends offered me. The taste was smoking and authentic.
Being Indian when I travel, traditional sweets always entice me. Milktart, is a tea-time treat in SA cultures for years. Some recipes go back 100 of years. I had the distinct pleasure of trying this dish made by my friend’s grandmother. She was excited to see my expression as my tongue felt the cinnamon against the smooth layers of milk – she cutely commented saying it might be spicy (these foreigners don’t know spice).
Can’t get enough:
I have to go back to South Africa to try so much more. There are dishes I want to repeat and there are some that will forever be in my mind. All you need to remember is that – for every mood, there is food in South Africa.