Food in South Africa
South African cuisine is multicultural, influenced by native British, German, Indian, Malayan, Portuguese and, of course, African influences.
- Braaivleis, meat roasted over an open wood or charcoal fire, is very popular and is usually done at weekend social events. The act of roasting the meat as well as the social event is called a braai.
- Pap, a porridge made with maize flour. Slappap (liquid porridge), is soft and often eaten as breakfast porridge, stywepap (stiff porridge) has a doughy and rather lumpy consistency and is often used as a substitute for rice or other starches. “Krummel” porridge, also called umphokoqo (crumbly porridge), is drier, resembles couscous and is often served at a braai with a saucy tomato and onion sauce called sous.
- Potjiekos, a meat and vegetable stew prepared in a cast-iron pot over an open fire. A favourite at Braais.
- Boerewors, a spicy sausage. Boerewors Rolls are hot dog buns with boerewors instead of hot dogs, traditionally garnished with an onion and tomato relish.
- Biltong and droëwors, are meat or sausages which are seasoned that have been dried. Frequently used with beef, game as well as ostrich meat. Popular at sporting events and while travelling.
- Bunny chows, which are half breaded and packed with either lamb or beef curry instead, is a dish not to be missed on a trip to KwaZulu-Natal.
- Bobotie, meatloaf with Cape Malay influence, flavoured with curry and spices, topped with a savoury pudding.
- Morogo, a wild spinach alone or with potatoes. Sometimes served with porridge.
- Waterblommetjiebredie, mutton and local water lily stew.
- Masonja, deep-fried mopani worms for the culinary adventurer.
- Melktert, “milk cake”, a milk-based dessert.
- Koeksisters, a deep-fried sticky dessert.
- Vetkoek, deep-fried dough ball made of flour, served with apricot jam.
You will find the usual selection of international fast food places. McDonalds, KFC, Domino’s Pizza and Wimpy are well represented throughout the country.
Notable local franchises of note include Black Steer, Spur and Steers which have the best burgers, and Nando’s peri-peri for chicken.
Pizza delivery is available in most urban areas, with food being ordered online from places like Domino’s Pizza and Debonairs.
Almost every restaurant and even bar were declared as ” smoke-free zones “. In some restaurants you will find a special smoking area where children are not allowed. As a rule of thumb, look for an ashtray on your table. However, you will most likely be greeted with a “smoking or non-smoking” sign at the door of the establishment. Check this as smoking is not allowed in non-designated areas and you may be met with some rude gestures.
Drinks in South Africa
Municipal tap water is usually safe to drink. In some areas, such as the Hartebeespoort Dam, it is advisable to boil the water before drinking.
Milk is available in most supermarkets, but bottled orange juice that has not been reconstituted from concentrate is much, much harder to find than in North America. Most South African retailers only stock orange juice that has been reconstituted from concentrate, or orange juice that has been mixed with other juices or milk. However, soft drinks such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi are widely available.
The legal age for buying and drinking alcohol in South Africa is 18. Almost all restaurants have a licence to serve alcohol.
When Witblits or Mampoer are offered; these are distilled locally under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture and are licensed to produce. They are safe and enjoyable to consume and do not resemble the names for moonshine or firewater. The alcohol content is controlled by the Ministry, as is the quality.
Among the most popular brands in local beer production are SABMiller, with Castle, Hansa, Black Label and Castle Milk Stout. There are also microbreweries all over South Africa. A number of imported beers including Stella Artois and Grolsch and many others is also widely available. Namibian Windhoek brand beers are also popular and widely available.
Prices can vary greatly depending on the pub. Expect to pay between R7 and R18 for a beer.
South Africa has a well-established wine industry. Most wine is produced in the Cape Winelands in the Western Cape and along the Orange River in the Northern Cape. There is plenty of wine available all over the country and at very low prices.
Amarula Cream is made from the marula fruit. The marula fruit is a favourite treat for African elephants, baboons and monkeys and in liqueur form is definitely not something to be missed. Pour over crushed ice and enjoy. The taste, colour and consistency are very similar to the world famous Baileys Irish Cream. Cape Velvet is a particular popular choice in and around Cape Town.
Tea and coffee
The local rooibos tea, made from an herb found in the Cederberg Mountains, is a favourite for many South Africans. You will find coffee shops in most shopping centres, such as Mugg&Bean and House of Coffees. Coffee shops with a similar concept to Starbucks, such as Seattle Coffee Company and Vida e Caffe (with a Portuguese theme), are becoming more commonplace.