* I just wanted to make a note about a few great comments on staying vegetarian while traveling. I actually had zero problem finding veggie options on the trip. Our professor and the program coordinator did a fabulous job catering to all dietary needs. Even on the homestays, she told us not to feel rude for refusing anything offered. In general, one problem I run into with being a vegetarian is that the veggie option can be quite unhealthy–french fries, pizza, alfredo anything; fortunately, on this trip that wasn’t an issue. Fresh veggies, fruits and salads were almost always served–and while sometimes they had a lot of butter or cheese sauce, that was the exception not the rule. I was surprised by how often whole grain cereals and breads were served too. I definitely indulged my curiousity and tea was pretty much a lost cause for healthy options, but sometimes it is worth it. I will admit that I did try one bite alligator on the trip. It was good, but I am not missing anything.
In addition to the large amount of traditional food I ate in South Africa, we also had plenty of “western” food. Before I left, I knew the bed and breakfast served a health and English breakfast. I was quite curious to see what such a breakfast would involve! Our bed and breakfast was casual, but cozy, and they let us pretty much take over the entire place.
The daily breakfast included, lots of different cereals, yogurt, granola, juice, coffee, toast and jam. There were also a few hot options each day, such as eggs, creamed corn casserole, bacon, avocado and tomato slices and sometimes baked bean, one day there was even steamed broccoli.
I was all about the cold breakfast, which included amazing fruit. There was almost always big bowl of fruit salad, a big bowl of papaya or granadillas, and a bowl of rehydrated dried tropical fruit. We were all about the cereal yogurt messes. I started each day with a mix of fresh and dried fruit, yogurt and cereal.
Tea time became a HUGE part of my life in South Africa. It is such a wonderful tradition, we had it either mid-morning or afternoon. Typically when we were visiting schools, universities or talking to speakers, it was a great time to speak informally and learn more about our research topics. While I have no pictures, I actually drank more coffee than I ever have in my life. I probably should have tried the rooibos tea everyone loved so much, but I have never drank much coffee or tea, so I stuck with the one I prefer. In addition to the beverages, tea always included a yummy sweet or savory item/s. Such as biscotti, tea sandwiches, muffins, cake or cookies. It was definitely an indulgence, but quite often I decided it was worth it. One thing I didn’t love was that they put cheese in so many of the baked goods. Breads have cheese baked in and often muffins are topped with butter and shredded cheese, weird.
COOP Dinners! One week 18 of us decided to have a dinner coop. We divided into teams and cooked for each other. It was really fun, but took a lot of time to cook and clean for 18 people, so we had fun for one week, and then took the rest of the trip to enjoy the local restaurants or have more casual meals. I will say that after three weeks of buffet after buffet, I felt that my portions were getting huge and I was always feeling too full!
The coop dinners had to accommodate vegan and gluten free diners, so there was always an abundance of options!
In addition there was pasta with butter garlic sauce, a pasta with cream spinach sauce, and chicken-which I skipped obvi!
My night to cook our team did a comfort food theme.
This included chickpeas roasted in peri peri sauce (my contribution), fried chicken, mac and cheese, strawberry walnut spinach salad, spicy eggplant butternut squash stew with honey apricot parmesan polenta and vegan polenta (also my contributions), and assorted rolls.
The stew and polenta was based on a Rachael Ray recipe I first saw on Kath’s blog. I have made it before and really enjoy it. I had a very hard time tracking down the same ingredients in the South Africa, but the stew was a big hit—people were pretty psyched for veggies in abundance by that point.
This was Nico’s plate:
And mine, making polenta from scratch is hard work!
Nicole’s salad was so amazing! This bowl was HUGE!
Mexican night was a holy yum experience!
DIY Fajitas with peppers, onions, chicken, cheesy refried beans, guac, salsa, chips and corn! Sorry the photos are so dark and blurry!
And of course, each night featured its own playlist: