South Africa's culinary diversity reflects its multicultural society, ranging from African staples in the townships to seafood and steaks in globally acclaimed restaurants. What we know for sure is that eating is an excellent way to the heart of the rainbow nation - so here is what food you can expect in South Africa!
Boerewors is the Afrikaans term for "farmer's sausage" and is so popular in South Africa that it's practically a staple food.
Boerewors is traditionally handcrafted from coarsely ground meat predominantly beef that is sometimes combined with pork, lamb, or even both.
"Boerie" or simply "wors" as it's affectionately known in South Africa boasts a respectable 90% meat content for a generally reasonable price. Like most sausage, it also has a high fat content, which adds to its delicious, succulent, full texture and flavour and is, arguably best prepared on a grill over hot coals.
While boerewors is synonymous with outdoor cooking or "braaing" (barbecuing), it can just as easily be cooked in an oven or on a stove top. However, regardless of cooking preference, it has a delicious taste that's genuinely incomparable. Boerewors flavours also differ from region to region and every butcher has his or her own recipe.
For a real taste of South Africa, an authentic braai or shisa nyama ('burn the meat' in Zulu) is an eating experience not to be missed - this is the quintessential South African way of eating, where friends gather sociably around an open fire and cooking is done over the coals.
Braais originated in the townships of Johannesburg, with butchers who set up "barbecues" in front of their shops at weekends to grill their meat and sell it on the street. Nowadays, local communities gather at braais at the weekends to share food.
In South African there is a day that has been dedicated to the braai (It's actually Heritage Day) and celebrated annually on the 24 September.
Braai is such a big part of South African heritage and tradition. It's a day South African of all shapes, colours, and sizes unite with their friends and family by fire.
Popular in Afrikaner cooking, vetkoek is basically a fried dough bread. The word means "fat cake" and is similar to the Dutch oliebollen.
The dough is deep-fried in vegetable oil and then stuffed with cooked ground beef, it can also be spread honey, syrup and jam. However, Jam and cheese make a great combination for this crispy on the outside and warm and fluffy on the inside traditional South African pastry.
This traditional Cape Malay dish contains gently spiced minced lamb or beef topped with an egg-and-milk layer and browned in the oven - this dish tends to be a staple in most South African homes.
Some recipes call for the addition of almonds, apple, raisins or apricot jam and the sweetness works well with the curry powder and turmeric that lend the dish its golden colour.
A giant filled roll is another street-food masterpiece - this legendary stacked foot-long sandwich is meant for sharing and is filled to bursting with slap chips (chunky, soft fries usually doused in vinegar), masala steak, egg, and sometimes polony or a vienna accompanied by atchar or peri peri.
It originated in the Cape Flats in the 1970s as an economical meal. Not the kind of food you're likely to eat on a daily basis, but you haven't been to the Mother City if you've never tried a gatsby!
There are two versions of the koeksisters - one the Afrikaner version and the other Cape Malay. Both equally delicious and loved among the locals.
This tasty tea-time treat is made by frying pleated-dough pieces and become even sweeter after adding a sugary syrup. They have a golden, crunchy crust, a soft, doughnut-like centre, and are super sticky.
The Cape Malay version, compared to the more common sweet version, is rolled in desiccated coconut, and it has a slightly spicy flavour.
Milk Tart, also known as melktert, is by far one of the most delicious South African desserts. It is a staple in every South African grocery store, coffee shop, bakery, and café.
Milk Tart is essentially a custard tart (with cinnamon) inside a pastry base which can be eaten warm or cold. It is said that it was derived from a recipe brought over by the Dutch settlers in the 1600s and later the Cape Malay folks (creators of Bobotie) adapted the recipe and added some spices.
Malva Pudding is a truly South African pudding dish, with a sweet sponge and a decadent caramelized sticky sauce; it's normally served with hot custard or ice cream.
This pudding originated from the old Cape Dutch ladies, cooking up a storm for the officers and captains of Jan van Riebeeck. With over 160 000 results in Google - this pudding is a South African legend - and can be found in nearly ALL South African cookbooks.
Probably the most-loved South-African snack, biltong is a dried, cured and spiced meat. While not as sweet, biltong and American beef jerky do share a few similarities.
Beef biltong remains a favourite, but venison biltong is also popular. More unconventional versions, like chicken biltong, are also available. Served as a snack at just about any, of not all, social gatherings.
Ultimately what you will learn when you visit South Africa is that it's a land of diversity - its people, landscapes, cultures and languages offer a melting pot of intrigue and excitement but, In addition to this, it creates the modern mix of cuisine that defines its people, delighting locals and visitors alike in its range and flavours.
Explore South Africa's Garden Route in this 10-day tour, which stretches from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, whilst you explore its beautiful countryside, rugged coastlines, the Big Five species and much more.
CAMPING OR ACCOMMODATED. This comprehensive 20-day tour covers the well worn route from Cape Town to Victoria Falls, crossing South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, and ending in Zimbabwe. It's a truly grand African safari.
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