South Africa Food and Drink
Meat is big in South Africa, and one national sport is the braai, the local version of a barbecue. In fact it’s almost a team sport, with the men standing around grilling vast quantities of meat. Most campsites, self-catering resorts and picnic spots have braai facilities, as well as every self-respecting garden.
The long coastline guarantees a seemingly endless supply of fresh fish and seafood, and many restaurants are now making an effort to only use sustainable fish species. The wines produced by the numerous vineyards vary from pretty good to downright excellent, causing some restaurants to have wine lists more extensive than their food menus. Excellent local red and white wines are produced in the Cape, and are generally served as single varieties rather than as blends. Look out for the more acquired taste of pinotage, a red grape created in South Africa in 1925 by a professor of viticulture who blended hermitage with pinot noir. Sherries and brandies are also produced.
The restaurant scene is thriving, although South Africans tend to be fickle; what is hot one season can disappear a few months later. Cape Town and the wine lands in particular tend to have the best restaurants, with Johannesburg and Durban dominated by indistinguishable chain restaurants of the pizza, pasta and steak variety.
The country's cosmopolitan heritage means all types of cuisine are available, with fruity and sweet Cape Malay cuisine a speciality of Cape Town, and a strong Indian influence making Durban's curries divine.
• Boerworst (a fairly spicy high-quality sausage, essential for a braai).
• Bobotie (a curried mince stew often studded with raisins).
• Potjiekos (a spicy casserole cooked in an iron pot).
• Bredie (meat, tomato and vegetable casserole).
• Biltong (dried meat, typically beef or venison).
Things to know:
South Africans eat relatively early by European standards, with restaurants at their busiest from 1900. Trying to find somewhere to eat later than 2200 can be almost impossible.
A tip of 10 to 15% is expected.
• Umqombothi (a home-brewed sorghum beer).
• Castle lager is also popular.
• Excellent local red and white wines (including chardonnay), sherries and brandies.
• Klippies and coke (a popular mix of brandy and coke, named after Klipdrift, a cheap local brandy).
• Rooibos (a red-leafed tea grown in the Western Cape).
• Amarula cream (a sweet creamy liqueur made from the fruit of the Marula tree).