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...)
Pinotage is a proudly South African wine that is counted among the best in the world. The man behind this famous varietal is Cape-born Abraham Izak Perold, who was the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University.
During the 1920’s Perold experimented with crossing various grape varieties. The decision to cross haughty Pinot Noir with humble Hermitage was a strange choice, but Perold left no explanation. He planted just four seeds in the garden of his official residence at the Welgevallen Experimental farm.
South African cuisine is as diverse as its people. Before settlers arrived on the shores of the southernmost part of ‘the dark continent’ in the 17th century, indigenous African people had traditional meals unique to each tribe – and the arrival of colonists from Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, the French Huguenots and of course, the British, added a spectacular array of flavours to the melting pot.
Cape Malay cooking is known for its rich and intense spices and flavours. It has its origins in Malaysia, Java and Bengal, whose people were brought to the Cape of Good Hope as slaves in the late 1600s by the Dutch East India Company. They brought with them many spices that were not common in the newly settled South Africa at the time – many hot peppers and chillies, as well the liberal use of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and all-spice in their cooking.
Today the Cape Malay style of cuisine is still best described as regional, and very prevalent in the Western Cape. However, and South African mother-in-law will tell you that a cook who doesn’t know how to make a decent bobotie, is not worth their salt in the kitchen!
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