With the platter of awe-inspiring scenery and action-packed activities on offer to visitors to South African shores, it comes as no surprise that the local cuisine is often overlooked as one of this country’s star attractions.
Dining - or “chowing” as the locals would say - can be just as exciting as visiting a game farm, petting a cheetah or taking an ocean cruise. In fact there is no reason not to combine an excursion with a spectacular local meal, thereby killing two birds with one stone (though you won't need to resort to any stone-throwing to get some food on your plate...)
The Rainbow Nation proudly lives up to its name when it comes to cuisine, effortlessly blending traditional First World fare with more exotic local dishes. Thanks to the diversity of South Africa's culture, anyone's 'perfect plate' can be found, whether you are a vegetarian or an avid meat eater. The selection of meats available is truly astounding and ranges from the more obvious, such as succulent beef , Kudu and Karoo lamb, to the more unusual ostrich, zebra, or even crocodile. You may even be brave enough to try some African delicacies like sheep's head or pig trotters... Your eating experience will only be limited by your imagination – and your intestinal fortitude!
Sample the Malay influenced foods in Cape Town, or the enormous variety of curries that settled along with the large Indian community in Durban. Traditional Xhosa and Zulu meals are always served with a wonderful community spirit and incredible atmosphere, even if they may appear simple in terms of ingredients. From simple beef dishes like Babotie with Saffron rice to the more outlandish fried caterpillars, the choices are endless and make it possible for the adventurous visitor to try something new and different every day of their trip. The Western Cape's sprawling wine route guarantees a fabulous selection of fine and affordable wines as well as many dessert wines and sherries that make wonderful gifts for all the folk back home.
In the larger cities, it is not unusual to see a Chinese restaurant, a Curry house and a fine dining establishment all gracing one street. For the more cautious diner, these supply an excellent and comforting selection of European, American and Asian food. However, most eateries happily adhere to a “local is lekker” approach and won't leave their menus without a few regional dishes, allowing diners to try a little something new while still appeasing the appetite with known favourites. For those seeking the best of both worlds in an up-scale dining experience, many high end urban restaurants excel in creating 'fusion meals' that provide a perfect blend of classical à la carte creations with just a dollop of Africa.
However, if you are to truly engage in the most popular South African eating experience, you will need to experience THE BRAAI. This African take on the barbecue usually entails a feast of sausage (more commonly known as BOEREWORS), steak, chops and kebabs (aka SOSATIES) accompanied by fire-smoked vegetables and a smorgasbord of salads and breads. It’s also the best way to make friends in our country where braaing is everyone's favourite social pastime, regardless of race or culture.
So prepare to be delighted and surprised by the diversity and abundance of South African cuisine that offers a complete and hearty feast for the senses!