South African Cuisine

South African Cuisine

A brief history

South African food is most often of the highest quality. Meat, fruit, freshwater & sea fish and shellfish such as crayfish (rock lobster) and perlemoen (abelone) are considered to the the country's culinary delights, and are offered in the country's best restaurants as well as on the tables in many homes.

Seafood Platter
Traditional South African cooking combines the best of many cultural cuisine's which have co-existed in the country for over 300 years. The earliest South Africans were mainly hunter-gatherers and the Bantu settlers brought agriculture with them. The resulting dishes used mainly maize, sweet potato, gem squash and other vegetables.

The Dutch & English influences have created practical stews and sausages such as bobotjie, potjiekos and boerewors. Slaves from the east (mostly Malaysia) and labourers from India added spices and curried flavours to the melting pot as well as fruit to some meat dishes.

The Portuguese - who were the first to discover South Africa - added peri-peri and fish dishes to the culinary heritage. Furthermore, small communities of Chinese, Italians and Greeks have all contributed new flavours to the South African cuisine.

Afikander hospitality, especially in country areas, is legendary.The home-cooked meal one would eat would be substantial, and one of the best-loved social traditions is the braai or braaivleis, a standard barbeque featuring well-marinated meats (lamb, beef, chicken, and of course the well-spiced, much-flavored boerewors, or farmer's sausage), potatoes and other vegetables.

Many of these traditional dishes are featured in our "Recipe" section to the right. Examples are potjiekos; which is a derivative of the olden days hunter's pot or "everything pot" (a never ending stew made on a three-legged iron pot), bobotjie; a spicy meat-loaf, sosaties; or kebabs, and waterblommetjie bredie; a type of bredie or stew made with a flower found in the Cape meadows.

South African wines are generally very good; some are excellent and a few superb. They were long underrated (and boycotted) by the world but are now gaining in international reputation. Although the prices are rising, they remain relatively cheap.