A cultural melting pot

You’ll find a whole range of restaurants serving anything from hamburgers to sushi, but our specialities include Cape Malay cuisines.

cultural melting pot
You’ll find traditional Cape Malay restaurants or workshops on Cape Malay cooking offered by tour operators like the Coffeebeans Routes during your stay in South Africa. (Image: Coffeebeans Routes)

Brand South Africa reporter
South Africa is triply blessed. A long and varied coastline supplies us with an astonishing amount and variety of seafood; our fertile soils and wonderful climate work together to produce an enormous range of agricultural products; and our chequered history has endowed us with a population with such diverse cultural backgrounds that fusion is hardly anything new here.

Of course, you will find a whole range of restaurants serving anything from hamburgers to sushi, but let’s concentrate on our specialities.

Our seafood is legendary, and is best sampled at one of the West Coast’s open air restaurants – not much more than simple shelters on the beach. As well as mussels, fish stew, grilled fish and lobster, you may be offered pickled fish – a well-loved dish which you’ll also find in some traditional Cape Malay restaurants.

Other Malay specialities include fruity, spicy but not overpowering curries, smoorsnoek (a fish dish not unlike kedgeree), koeksisters (a sweet, syrupy treat), bobotie (a spicy mince dish), and some Indian specialities, such as rotis and samosas, with a local twist.

But our cuisine truly is multicultural, and nowhere is this more apparent than at a typical South African braai (barbecue). Now braais are assumed to be the domain of the Afrikaner male, but the reality is not nearly so simple.

Yes, there is an awesome amount of meat, most notably the very Afrikaner boerewors (a spicy, fatty sausage), but there will almost certainly be sosaties too. This is a lightly curried meat kebab, not unlike an Indonesian satay, which was brought to this country by the Malays hundreds of years ago.

And of course, no braai is complete without pap en sous, which is the staple diet of most of Africa. It’s a grits-like maize porridge, cooked up stiff, and served with a relish of vegetables, usually tomato and onion at a braai, or wild spinach (merogo or imifino) in a traditional African environment.

You’ll get the opportunity to try this at most cultural villages, or at one of the many African restaurants which are scattered all over the country.

And, of course, all this food has got to be washed down with something. South Africans are great beer drinkers, and no braai is complete without the brown liquid. More worth trying, though, is the thick, low-alcohol, nutritious traditional African beer, brewed from maize or sorghum.

But nothing can beat a good wine from the Cape – a notable wine-growing region for over 300 years.

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Source: South African Tourism

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