The most important tip I can give you on South Africa local food, and the only one that will make you elevate from being a tourist to becoming a real traveler immersed in the local culture, is “Stay away from McDonalds“. When visiting South Africa, there is awesome local food to try. Head to the local eateries too, and go where the locals go. For me, the food, wine and and even the water is part of the travel experience.
What to Eat in South Africa
South African cuisine is just as diverse as its cultures, with influences from British, Dutch, German, Indian, Malay, Portuguese and of course the native African influences. Braaivleis, meat roasted over an open wood or charcoal fire, is very popular and generally done at weekend social events. The act of roasting the meat as well as the social event is referred to as a braai. Pap, a porridge made with corn meal.
Slappap (runny porridge), is smooth and often eaten as a breakfast porridge, Stywepap (stiff porridge) has a doughy and more lumpy consistency and is often used as a replacement for rice or other starches. “Krummel” pap also called umphokoqo (crumby porridge) is drier, resembles couscous and is often served at a braai covered in a saucy tomato relish. Potjiekos, a meat and vegetable stew made in a cast iron pot over an open fire. A favorite at braais. Boerewors, a spicy sausage.
Boerewors Rolls are hotdog buns with boerewors rather than hotdogs, traditionally garnished with an onion and tomato relish. Biltong and Droëwors, seasoned meat or sausage that has been dried. Beef, game and ostrich meat is often used. A favourite at sports events and while travelling. Bunny chows, half a loaf of bread with the inside replaced by lamb or beef curry is a dish not to be missed when traveling to KwaZulu Natal. Bobotie, meatloaf with a Cape Malay influence, seasoned with curry and spices, topped with a savoury custard. Morogo, a wild spinach on its own or with potato. Sometimes served with pap. Waterblommetjiebredie, mutton and indigenous water lily stew.
Masonja, for the culinary adventurer, fried Mopanie worms. Melktert, “milk tart”, a milk-based dessert. Koeksisters, a deep-fried sticky dessert. Fast food You will find the usual array of international fast food outlets. McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, Wimpy, and Cinnabon are well represented throughout the country. McDonald’s archrival Burger King recently entered the South African market. Local franchises worth mentioning are Black Steer and Steers for the best burgers and Nando’s for peri-peri chicken. Pizza delivery is available in most urban areas; the dominant national chain is Debonairs.
What to Drink in South Africa
Municipal tap water is usually safe to drink. In some area such as Hartebeespoort Dam, it is advisable to boil your water before drinking. Milk is widely available at most supermarkets, but bottled orange juice not-from-concentrate is much harder to find than in North America. Most South African retailers carry only orange juice reconstituted from concentrate or orange juice blended with other juices or milk. Soft drinks like Coca-Cola and Pepsi are widely available. Consider trying popular domestic soft drinks like Appletiser (carbonated apple juice), as well as the unique Creme Soda and Iron Brew produced by Sparletta.
The legal age to purchase and drink alcohol in South Africa is 18. Almost all restaurants are licensed to serve liquor. If offered Witblits or Mampoer; those are locally distilled under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture, and allocated a manufacturers’ license. They are safe and enjoyable to consume and does not resemble the names for moonshine or firewater. The alcohol content is controlled by the Department, so is the quality. Beer Local beer production is dominated by SABMiller with Castle, Hansa, Black Label and Castle Milk Stout being most popular brands. There are also Micro Breweries all over South Africa.
Imported beers such as Stella Artois and Grolsch are also widely available. The Namibian Windhoek brand beers are also popular and generally available. Prices can vary widely depending on the establishment. Expect to pay anything from R7 to R18 for a beer. Wine South Africa has a well established wine industry with most of the wine produced concentrated in the Cape Winelands in the Western Cape and along the Orange River in the Northern Cape. Wine is plentiful throughout the country and very inexpensive. Liquors Amarula Cream is made from the marula fruit. The marula fruit is a favorite treat for African elephants, baboons and monkeys and in the liqueur form definitely not something to be passed over by humans. Pour over crushed ice and enjoy.
The taste, color and texture is very similar to the world famous Baileys Irish Cream. Cape Velvet is a favorite in and around Cape Town. Tea and Coffee The local Rooibos tea, made from a herb from the Cederberg Mountains is a favorite for many South Africans. You will find coffee shops in most shopping malls, such as Mugg&Bean and House of Coffees . Coffee shops similar in concept to Starbucks, like Seattle Coffee Company and Vida e Caffe (Portuguese themed), are becoming commonplace.
Other local foods, or drinks that you recommend? Please add and comment.