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South African Noshing

Posted Aug 07 2009 12:19pm

I thought I would do one big post on my South African eats.  I have to say, I got some looks as I tried to capture at least 25% of my note worthy eats, but I opted to ignore them and keep snapping.  My camera did die at a few inoportune moments, but I still have plenty of shots.

Let me just say that you can get absolutely any type of food in Pretoria.  Anything from greek to sushi to falafel to vegan wraps.  So I will divide my posts into three parts: traditional african—although each tribe has its own specialties; modern south african–influenced by global ethnicities and the english and dutch colonization; South African American—food that we students made.

Today we will go with traditional African

I had many opportunities to try different African dishes.  We ate at several guest houses that prepared us traditional foods. We did a one night home stay. My family cooked us the Xhosa tribe’s signature dish umngqusho (hominy, beans and spices).

Traditional Xhosa food includes samp and beans, steamed bread, lamb and dumplings, cabbage and spinach, and salads.  The family I stayed with in Soweto ate traditionally a few times a week but also ate pasta and pizza, etc. 

The 17 year old son took us on a fun tour of Soweto and one of the first thing the he had my friend Nico and I try was a kota.  I wish I had a picture!  I couldn’t find any good ones, but it is basically and entire loaf of bread cut in half filled with french fries, meats, vegetables, cheese, pickles, etc.  Since it was a few hours before dinner, we each had just a bite—I avoided the meat.  Kota is known as bunny chow in the Indian population.  I also tried that! Yum, it looks like this—basically a spicy veggie curry in a hollowed out loaf of bread: 


For dinner we had stew and umngusho.  After dinner we got drinks at a township bar, I got Red Square energizer, which is a pre-mixed bottled redbull vodka, sweet!

Here are other meals I enjoyed that weekend:

umngusho, steamed bread—the most AMAZING bread ever, steamed veggies, chakalaka, rice, tomato and onion sauce and a banana

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After tea, we went to a cute Guest House for lunch south africa 107  

A beet, carrot, plum salad, steamed veggies with a cheese sauce, squash and more steamed bread!

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Dessert was a crazy mix of pudding, jello, pound cake and all kinds of fruit including lots of lichee.  I wasn’t a fan, but I tried it.

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At first I was nervous to stay in the township, which was basically a black ghetto created by the white government under apartheid which allowed blacks that were used for cheap labor to live in the city under the pass system, but the townships had tiny four room houses and shacks with no electricity, and were often face the extreme violence of the police.  Soweto was one of the center locations of the movement against apartheid, and where Nelson Mandela lived.  In the end, the home stay was perhaps my favorite part of the trip! Township life is a huge part of the urban culture and while the families range from affluent to poor, my family was of modest income, but did not have indoor plumbing, there is more life, warmth and vibrance than I can relay.

Our second weekend, we went on safari!  This involved lots of braai’s-bbqs!

Unfortunately, my camera died on safari and I wasn’t able to get many shots of the amazing braiis at the game park and at the cultural village, but I have a few of our own cookout and from my cameras last legs.

We stayed in these cut huts

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Braii’s involve lots of meat :(

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My pescatarian plate

salad, a very spicy chakalaka, fish, and pap-a huge staple that is sort of a mix between polenta and grits

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Plus South African S’Mores! I could eat a smore everyday! south africa 297

After the safari, the game park had an amazing meal prepared tons of salads, vegetables, soups, stews, meats and breads!

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Of the above, the cinnamon pumpkin was DIVINE!  All the squash, butternut soups and pumpkin I had in SA was so delicious!

And of course dessert, german chocolate cake, bread pudding, milk tart and apple tart, I had a few bites of each.

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I enjoyed steamed bread whenever I had the chance.  I also ate pap on at least 4 occasions, it is always available, but the squashes were a huge favorite, and veggie bunny chow is not to be missed. lol

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