South Africa - Food and Drink

May 18th, 2003, 01:31 PM
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South Africa - Food and Drink

What food or drink should I not leave South Africa without trying at least once? (We'll be doing a combination of picnics, restaurants, accomodations with meals, and self-catering). Anything we should pick up at a grocery to take home? (spices, seasonings,etc.)
Ella is offline  
May 19th, 2003, 03:50 AM
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I've listed everything I can think of, leave out what you don't think will suit your palate:
You must have a traditional SA braai (like a barbeque but much better) with "pap en sous"
Milk tart
You can try Mopani worms if you want (I cannot not bring myself to eat them!)
Biltong (beef or game)
Karoo lamb
Curry (from Durban or Lenasia)
Smoked Snoek
Any fresh seafood
Koeksisters [2 x ]
"Ouma" Rusks
Rooibos tea
Liquifruit fruit juice

On the alcohol side, I find SA beers quite heavy, but you will not be able to go wrong with SA wines. Any bottle store will be able to help you select something for your palate and pocket.

For your self catering stint: go mad at Woolworths food section.

To take home, most ex-pats make visitors bring in supplies of Marmite, Provitas and Mrs Ball's Chutney.
traci_local_in_sa is offline  
May 19th, 2003, 04:17 AM
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Now we need the translations!
Can you describe the items in your list?

Kavey is offline  
May 19th, 2003, 05:05 AM
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Sure! I actually returned to add two itmes to the list ...
Descriptions/translations where possible follow:
You must have a traditional SA braai (like a barbeque but much better) with "pap en sous" = the SA braai is an institution and will likely feature "boerewors" a spicey sausage. "Pap en sous" is difficult to describe without using any local language! A stiff cooked savoury porridge with a tomato and onion sauce is about as close as I can get.
Bobotie = it sounds disgusting but try it, it's lovely. A casserole with curried mince topped with a savoury custard and baked in the oven. You get fish and vegetarian variations.
Waterbloemmetjies = this is a unique vegetable which I think is related to water lillies. The name literally means "little water flowers". It takes some skill to cook well and so is not widely available and it's recommended that you try it in a restaurant.
Milk tart = a baked custard type tart topped with cinnamon.
Chakalaka = hot and spicey tomato and onion based sauce used on just about anything.
You can try Mopani worms if you want (I cannot not bring myself to eat them!) = a speciality from the Kruger Park area, a large fat worm that is supposedly high in protein, they are usually fried and not widely eaten.
Biltong (beef or game) = dried and cured meat, it's close to jurkey but much nicer.
Ostrich = very good for you, low in cholesterol.
Karoo lamb = the Karoo area produces some fine lamb.
Curry (from Durban or Lenasia) = SA has a large Indian population, most are in KwaZulu-Natal (Durban) and there is also a large community in Gauteng (Lenasia). Best curries south of the equator!
Smoked Snoek = Snoek is a fish on the Cape coast, and is deliciously smoked. A lot of places use smoked snoek to make lovely pate.
Any fresh seafood = There's an article in today's paper about the visiting English foodball team only wanting English fish (cod, plaice and halibut). I think they will change their mind once they discover Durban kingklip, sole, prawns, crayfish, oysters from Knysna, mussles, calamari etc.
Koeksisters [2 x ] = this is a pastry almost like a dougnut in that it's a yeast dough (plaited into a short braid) which is deep fried but then it's soaked in syrup so an ideal koeksister (direct translation is "cake sister") is soft inside, crispy outside and the syrup runs out when you bite into it.
"Ouma" Rusks = This is a large biscuit where a sweet loaf is baked and then sliced into chunks which are baked again to form dry rusks. They last exceptionally well due to the drying process. You have not been to SA unless you have "dunked" an Ouma into your tea or coffee.
Rooibos tea = Uniquely South African tea made from the rooibos plant, completely caffeine free and becoming a sought after export item. Best brewed strong and without milk.
Liquifruit fruit juice = no other fruit juice in the world comes close to Liquifruit. It's 100% fruit juice in a variety of flavours, nothing added, no diluting.
Now add to this list ...
Naartjie = a citrus fruit with a loose skin that is easily peeled off.
Peppadews = this is I believe a cross between a tomato and a chilli, it is sweet and crunchy with a nice kick!
Marmite is a vegetable extract spread, Provitas are a wholewheat crispbread and Mrs Ball's chutney is legendary.
traci_local_in_sa is offline  
May 19th, 2003, 06:14 AM
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Thanks Traci!

Bobotie sounds interesting - I love Indian (keema) mince curry - and lasagne comes with bechamel sauce which is probably like the savoury custard you mention...

Don't know when I'll get to SA but I do love reading about it!
Kavey is offline  
May 19th, 2003, 09:05 AM
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I would definitely try Mopani worms, I did! (not worms but I won't tell you what they are) because it will give you something tot alk about for the next 30 years. Bobotie is hard to find but a very simple and delicious dish. The very best single thing I ate in SA was bread pudding at Gramadoelas in J'burg. I am still salivating at the memory!!! And they give away the recipe...which starts with "take a half-loaf of our homemade bread..."
jenviolin is offline  
May 19th, 2003, 10:16 AM
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traci, that was a terrific food list, thank you. Someone had mentioned rusks and I wondered what they were. What are some typical South African breakfasts?
Clematis is offline  
May 19th, 2003, 11:26 AM
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You are a STAR second to none. You do us so proud as South Africans with your wonderful mails and especially the one in this thread. What a fabulous comprehensive list and your explanations are awesome to say the least. I would go as far as saying that imho this is the ultimate list. The only dishes and drinks that I could think of that was not on the list was Malva Pudding, a Potjiekos (Closed traditional type pot of food cooked over an open flame) Pinotage wine and of course Mampoer (Our own local Moonshine)

As far as some of the recipes for some of these foods are concerned inclusive of a bread and butter pudding as mentioned by jenviolin please go to to find out more.

Once again great mail Traci.

Selwyn Davidowitz
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Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
May 19th, 2003, 12:14 PM
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Clematis, at game lodges, breakfasts are just what you acn order at any hotel in the States.

You have to be careful not to gaina pound or two.

Do not miss the great reds of SA - but you can skip the Pinotage, their indigenous wine, and stick to Cabs. Merlot and Pinots.
May 20th, 2003, 10:36 PM
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No, you have to have pinotage, it is REALLY good.

Just on the smoked snoek, the best way is to get somebody to "braai" (BBQ) it on an open fire with a garlic and apricot jam marinade.

Breakfasts - matabele pap (porridge), putu pap, oats pap and Weetbix are the only "traditional" breakfasts that I can think of.

What about bokkoms - dried out fish that you get on the West Coast (Saldanha, etc). Best to have it with a beer. Your breath also smells of bokkoms for the rest of the year.

And "afval" (offal/tripe?). It is a curry dish with sheep/lamb legs, stomach, head, etc. (All of which which must be very clean!) I am not convinced it is indigenous to SA but it is really good!

Before I drool myself to death - enjoy your trip!

Local_John is offline  
May 20th, 2003, 10:47 PM
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I loved the kingclip, possibly one of the tastiest kinds of fish I've ever eaten! And the ostrich biltong, shaved into paper thin slices... And my absolute favourite, Rooibos tea. I brought home packets of the stuff - I can't get enough of it. Indeed, if anyone knows where I can get it in France, please let me know, as my supplies are running low!!!
hanl is offline  
May 21st, 2003, 05:12 AM
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We are leaving for SAfrica in 18 days! We have been sampling wines for 3 months getting ready for our wine tour and I have yet to find a Pinotage that I like. Any suggestions?(Just picked up the handbook, so I'll try a few when I get there.)I'm a Cab and Zin lover, so I'm really excited about the trip!
LLindaC is offline  
May 21st, 2003, 05:28 AM
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Hanl -

We can get Rooibos tea at almost all grocery stores here with a tea section. You might try Au Bon Marche in Paris, as they have a pretty big international food section, or a specialty tea shop.

Traci - Thanks for the list!! I am going to print it off for our trip!

melissaom is offline  
May 24th, 2003, 11:26 AM
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I'm going to be along the coast (PE to Cape Town. What are the fish and seafood specialties and best places to try them?
LLC is offline  
May 24th, 2003, 02:29 PM
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There is no place that I would say is a fish specialist in Port Elizabeth. A good restaurant to visit though is Aviemore 041 5851125 The owner of this restaurant, Schalk takes enormous pride in the food that he presents.

In Plettenberg Bay there is a fish shop on Beacon isle Beach serving fried fish and chips with the fish being so fresh that you can virtually see it arriving from the sea through the front door. This is a take out spot where you buy your fish and eat it on the beach.

In Knysna you simply have to go to the Knysna Oyster factory. If you love oysters then choose the Coastal (wild) oysters as opposed to the cultivated ones. The fish at the oyster factory is also excellent.

If you stop in at Hermanus on the way back to Cape Town then the place to be would either be at the Seafood at the marine restaurant which is in the Marine hotel (028 3131000)or On the Rocks in the new harbour. (028 3122920)

In Cape Town I would suggest Willoughby's in the Waterfront (no pre-booking at this restaurant or Panama Jacks in the harbour. (447 3992)

The big hidden secret fish place in Cape Town is Tangos (712 6631 This is a venue that locals seem to have kept to themselves. You will hardly ever see tourists at this local family type fish venue. It is rather far out of the city centre (25 minutes away in Kendall Road) but imho this is the very best fish restaurant in Cape Town. When you are in this restaurant you soon realise that fresh fish is being brought through the door minutes after being caught in the local Kalk Bay harbour. Furthermore if you want to find great varieties of local fish Tangos is the place to eat. My favourite fish that I generally eat at this venue is musslecracker. You will have to go hunting all over Cape Town for to find in another local restaurant serving this delicious fish variety.

Another gem of a place to eat at when it comes to fish would be Kalkies in the Kalk Bay harbour. Here you will sit down with the local fishermen and enjoy freshly caught local fish with wonderful local type chips (SA French fries) in a very basic type setting. The experience of eating at this venue is wonderful especially after one has seen all the fresh fish being brought to the harbour in front of you. Please note that Kalkies is only open during normal working hours and not at night.

Local fish that I would recommend that you should eat would be Kingklip, snoek and Cape Salmon.

Enjoy the Garden Route and my city when you visit us.

Selwyn Davidowitz
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Selwyn_Davidowitz is offline  
May 25th, 2003, 06:06 AM
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Nobody mentioned Appletiser.(sparkling apple juice.) When my kids get on the plane, that is the first thing they ask for. Grapetiser is also good.And Liquifruit or Ceres litchi juice.

Also don't forget the chocolates: aeros, crunchies peppermint crisps and also new peppermint crisp ice creams.
Magnums are also good and the best are grenadilla gattis lollies on the beach.If not accompanied by the singsong chant of "Lollies make you jolly" and "a sucker make jou wakker" (wakes you up), they do not taste quite the same.

On the sweet side, you have to have Sally Williams nougat or the honey nougat from Woolies.

Our American friends still salivate over the dried mangoes and secondly the dried pawpaw.
Mebos and guava roll.

In addition to biltong, you should try the droe wors (dried sausage).

If you are there in summer, you are blessed to be able to eat litchis by the 2kg box and yellow cling peaches.

The fish is outstanding and you have to have the calamari at Willoughby's. If you haven't eaten in, say a week, go with the fish platter, but share it with some one. (It could probably feed the population of a small country.

Thc Cape seed bread is outstanding (available from most supermarkets).

And Segal's sausages, (do they still make them?)

The different flavors of yogurt, especially the ones at Woolies.(Woolworth's)

We also love the Greek salads everywhere, the feta cheese is softer than what we are used to in the

On return, my suitcases are loaded with many of the above as well as those mentioned in Tracy's list.In addition, various Ina Paarman spices, Bar one chocolate sauce, Koo piccalilli, Peck's anchovette,custard powder, Steers marinade, Nando's peri peri sauce, Provita, curry powder and of course Mrs Ball's chutney.
I could go on and on, but this is making me hungry!
Waverley is offline  
May 25th, 2003, 06:13 AM
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Ohmigosh, I can't believe I forgot 5 Roses tea. (I bring back a year's supply of teabags each trip. After 20 years, we still can't drink American tea.)
Waverley is offline  
May 26th, 2003, 04:13 PM
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How about Amarula as a drink? We had our first taste in Tanzania in 1999 and have hunted the states for it. We can finally now start to get it. Like Baileys only better!
Trvlingal is offline  
May 26th, 2003, 05:36 PM
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Hi Trvlingal: You reminded me re this fabulous drink-Amarula. I just loved it.
pattysuericia is offline  
May 28th, 2003, 07:33 AM
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We've just returned from three weeks in Namibia and South Africa, and astonishingly, did NOT gain any weight!

To add to what's already been said here -- nartjiies are tangerines. The waterbloemmetfies taste like artichokes, I think, and look a little like them too. I love pinotage, and think it would be a shame not to try one while you are there. For white wines, I especially like very dry crisp ones such as fume blancs and sauvignon blancs; they seem to have a more flinty taste than their California or European counterparts. Especially good is Life From Stone, from the Springfield winery. For a semi-sweet white, try a Nederberg Stein (I think stein is the same cultivar as chenin blanc). This is an inexpensive wine that goes with more things than you'd think, especially boerewors (really, although reds are good with it too). Boerewors is really good.

If you're a foodie at all, try a gourmet restaurant in South Africa; they are wonderful and not too expensive compared to American prices.

We had kudu steak in Namibia and it was succulent.

In Knysna, we found Willoughby's at the Waterfront, but they were refinishing the floors and weren't open, so we went to Paquita's. It has a fabulous view of the rocky shore, and the best kingklip I have ever eaten, really. We couldn't find the Oyster Factory -- we found a sign for it, but the building seemed to be abandoned. Selwyn, were we in the wrong place?

In most hotels, B&B's, etc., breakfast is included, and is lavish: juices, breads, cereal, fruits, cold meats, cheeses, yoghurt, then bacon and eggs and sometimes sausages and tomatos and mushrooms. No one could eat it all, you just take what you feel like.

I don't like beer very much, but my husband doesn't feel like he's really in South Africa until he's had a cold Castle (pronounced coal carsull).

Bon appetit!
Celia is offline  

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