Africa & the Middle East Forums

Post New Topic

Recent Activity

  • Announcement:
  • Recent Spam Attacks
    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
View all Africa & the Middle East activity »
  1. 1 upcoming Africa trip ... gift ideas needed?
  2. 2 Free walking tours Medina Marrakech ???
  3. 3 Where to go for lunch and dinner in Fes, Marrakech, and Essaouira
  4. 4 Trip Report Nine months to Egypt (but you should go now)
  5. 5 Israel Transportation
  6. 6 Changing planes at Dubai
  7. 7 Has Anyone Been to Sudan...?
  8. 8 Kenya Safari Tour Operator Recommendations
  9. 9 Trip Report Chaos in the old Medina-Marrakech
  10. 10 Trip Report Glorious Return to South Africa--Two Weeks in October
  11. 11 Trip Report Morocco Trip Report
  12. 12 North African Tips for a First Timer
  13. 13 Morocco help
  14. 14 First trip to Africa
  15. 15 Morocco 6 days Itinerary..Need Help
  16. 16 Trip Report 3 day desert tour: Marrakech to Merzouga
  17. 17 Driving Distance from Kalahari Tented Camp to Western Etosha NP
  18. 18 IRAN
  19. 19 Money in Uganda
  20. 20 Uganda Visa
  21. 21 accomodation near Mata Mata Border post
  22. 22 Egypt- Dec Itinerary-help needed
  23. 23 Private Guide for Cairo
  24. 24 Egypt - Need Help!
  25. 25 Attractions in Cairo and around
View next 25 » Back to the top

Trip Report South Africa, Cow Head Soup

Jump to last reply

En route to dinner I am asked by Ja-ba-low if I have ever eaten at a hostel. As a backpacker, my immediate is “yes” although I soon discover that where we are having dinner is like no hostel I have ever visited.

Our hostel amounts to an open area with a few food vendors, a butcher shop and more interestingly a few communal barbeque grills made from 55 gallon drums. Our first stop here is at the butcher shop where we pick out a steak and a type of sausage, “borra-vous”, that has a Dutch influence. Our steak is seasoned and along with the side dishes, “Pap” and “Salsa” which we will pick up later, our feast is about R$50 (US$8).

Ja-ba-low finds an open grill and the cooking begins. No fancy utensils, our meats are maneuvered with a communal metal coat hanger type prong or the quick flip of a hand. Although, I have been to many barbeque's before, the simplicity and communal aspects of this one makes it a charming experience.

With our meat cooked, we find a space at one of the many open tables and then head off for the “icing on the cake” so to speak of our meal. I am going to have some “Cow Head Soup”, a favorite among the men and men only for one or two intriguing reasons. This is one dish that women are not particularly allowed to partake in. No soup for them!

Approaching the soup guy, I can sense he is serious about his product as I watch him tend to his vat of goods. He has no shortage of customers and I wait my turn in line for what he has to offer. Ja-ba-low makes some gesture and conversations with him then he tells me to practice my Zulu thank you. As a guest, sort of, I have just scored a free plate of cow head meat. To complete this portion of our meal, I again return to the soup guy this time with a styro cup purchased for a few rands from the butcher shop. Another wait in line and my cup is filled with a warm almost clear broth.

Back at our table, I am now ready to eat without utensils. I tear at the steak and sausage while following Ja-ba-low instruction to prepare the “pap” for eating. A desirable portion of the hot white maize side dish is rolled and shaped between the fingers then combined with the meat and salsa. A bit sticky at first but it all comes together nicely on the palette for an expected taste.

Next it's time to try the manly dish and I know I must erase from my mind that I am eating the meat from a cow's head. Again, following instructions and I am chewing on meat that ironically is from the inside cheek of the cow. It's a bit tough with the texture of a chicken gizzard although the flavor is not that bad. A few more pieces then it is time to partake in the portion of this meal that makes it attractive and a “men only” dish.

Ja-ba-low hands me the styro cup and I now stare into the warm now separated oily broth that is not particularly pleasant to look at. I am having second thoughts and start asking questions about it. An obvious stalling tactic that does not work. With some encouraging words, I blank out my mind and take a sip of the broth and then another. The taste is surprising. It seems to have a garlic flavor but I am told the flavor comes from just boiling down the cow's head meat with salt and water.

Learning the believed local benefits of this soup I can see why it is so popular with the men. But what about the women I ask, apparently they have plants and fruits for the same effect.

I can see that the dish has already effected some of the young men that were sitting next to us as they are happy to entertain us with a little dance as they are leaving.


Video:
http://youtu.be/hHhDgp6F_Xo

Advertisement