South African snacks are something we have all grown up with. To foreigners, I am sure some of them must seem very strange #NutsandBolts4Breakfast
South African cuisine, like South Africanisms, reflects the cultural diversity of the “rainbow nation.” From traditional African food to cuisine passed down from Indonesian and Malaysian slaves, South African food is a cacophony of tastes and textures. Make sure you have a South African beer at hand when trying any one of these dishes — we recommend a Castle Lager.
South Africans take pride in informing their foreign guests that the delicious piece of sausage they have just enjoyed was snake meat. This ends up being quite believable to the unsuspecting foreigner because boerewors, especially when it is bought with its meat coiling around itself and the thickness of the sausage appearing to be the thickness of a snake itself, does indeed appear to be a dead snake. Boerewors, though, is a popular piece of meat, made up of minced beef and a uniquely South African blend of spices. It is enjoyed best on a braai (barbecue).
This is the snack to enjoy while watching South Africa’s Bafana Bafana wishing the French national team a fond “au revoir.” Similar in many respects to beef jerky, biltong is a tough, slightly salty meat that comes in small, snack-size pieces. It’ll have you craving more — and for another swig of that Castle Lager.
What could be described as a staple among uniquely South African foods, pap is a polenta-like meal made out of mielie-meal – a little bit like corn flour. Wholesome and filling, pap is the definitive accompaniment to a South African meal. Plus, it makes you strong, boys and girls.
Pap is not that nca (meaning “nice”) by itself. But chakalaka adds that extra nca flavor, giving your pap vitality and life. Chakalaka is a spicy vegetable relish that is said to originate from some fiery Joburg mamas. Never eat it alone. Ever.
Made with minced meat and baked with an egg topping, this uniquely South African food originates from South Africa’s Cape Malay community, a community descended from slaves brought in from the Dutch East India Company’s colonies in what is today Indonesia. Slightly spicy, the dish goes well with rice, a dose of fruit chutney, some chopped banana, and a sprinkling of coconut.
- Bunny chow
Another dish that reflects South Africa’s cultural diversity is the famous bunny chow, popular in particular with Durban’s large community of Indian descendants. Considered perhaps a fast food, both for its quick preparation and general (but delicious) unhealthiness, bunny chow involves hollowing out half a loaf of bread and stuffing it with pretty much anything you please. We like cheese naks and tomato sauce (or – ketchup), but you should ideally stuff it with a hot spicy curry.
Another fairly quick yet ridiculously unhealthy meal is a vetkoek. The vetkoek is quite literally a piece of dough deep-fried in gallons of cooking oil. Again, we stuff this with pretty much anything, from a savory offering of mince to a sweet offering of syrup or jam. Either way, don’t expect this to fit too well with your 10-day muscle-building plan.
Put your drink down and try this instead. Yvonne Chaka Chaka, a legendary South African singer, once called this drink “the magic African beer.” Made out of corn, sorghum, yeast, and water, the beer is normally served from a gogogo, a communal drum from which friends and family help themselves. This isn’t a normal beer, mind you. Its alcohol content is low, but its thick consistency and tan, almost sand-like appearance will ensure a memorable beer-drinking experience. You don’t often say that about beer, do you?
We South Africans have a sweet tooth too. The koeksister fulfills that role with impeccable accuracy. Similar to a vetkoek, the koeksister is smaller and, having been deep-fried with more gallons of cooking oil, the dough is dipped in syrup and served cold. Again — don’t even bother with the gym that day. Such would be an insult to the venerable koeksister.
Slightly on the sedate side of the sweet tooth, this uniquely South African food is, literally, a milk tart. Similar in some respects to a custard tart, the melktert has a lighter, almost fluffy texture. It is best sprinkled with cinnamon, and it’s what you might find yourself eating if you unwittingly find yourself in the middle of a kuier (visit) with your ouma