The Rainbow Nation’s Rainbow Cuisine (South African cuisine)
When we think of the cuisine of international countries, we quite quickly associate certain foods off the top of our heads. America is associated with hamburgers and fries; Italy with pizza and pasta and France with delicious croissants,crepesand champagne. But with eleven official languages in the South African rainbow nation, it is not surprising we have a rainbow cuisine as well. When we think of visiting a foreign country, Korea for example, we might find ourselves thinking their common food delicacies will more than likely be a huge culture shock for us. Now imagine a foreigner arriving in South Africa, with eleven different official culture shocks waiting to greet them. South Africans on home ground also find themselves stretched to embrace the eating habits of their fellow citizens.
South African cuisine
With the essence of South African cooking wafting on the smoke of a good braai, we cannot but stumble upon one typically South African food on the Afrikaans front boerewors, a spicy sausage favourite at braais. We also often hear of ex-pats begging family members to include biltong, the raw and salted dried meat, in care packages sent abroad from home. Potjiekos also frequents the social scene. This is meat and vegetables stewed slowly over coals in a large cast iron pot. For dessert, favourites such as the twisted pastries deep fried and dripping with syrup yes, you guessed it koeksisters and the custard-like tart on a pastry bedding and sprinkled with cinnamon, a.k.a. melktert, will be at many a social gathering.
Deeper into the heart of South Africas heritage, the cultural culinary menu may not always appeal to everyone. From personal experience, in the past I have had a gentle heads up (excuse the pun to follow) to avoid the office fridge at work which on any given day could contain skop the head of a sheep, cow or pig popular in the Xhosa culture, along with walkie talkies (deep fried chicken feet and heads), trotters (boiled pigs or sheep trotters) and tripe (boiled intestines). Other Xhosa favourites include umnqusho, which is cooked samp and beans; and umphokoqo – wild spinach served with stiff maize porridge.
Travelling to the Cape, you are sure to come across smoked snoek, the fish caught of the Cape coast and readily available. Also to look out for is the renowned Gatsby a long bread roll stuffed with almost any possible filling, including hot chips. Other popular South African dishes include biryani, bobotie, and tomato bredie. Not satisfied just to have an array of proudly South African main meals and desserts, South African cuisine also boasts some unique condiments such as chutney and chakalaka; and locally produced drinks. Rooibos tea is native to our country, with other drinks including amasi (sour milk) and umqombothi – a fermented beer.
This is just a small sample of the broad spectrum of inter-cultural food habitually eaten in South African homes. There are still many more favourites awaiting an adventurous spirit to sample bravely.