Colourful. Seasoned. Varied. These are the words I use to describe my food-eating experiences around South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Corn or maize is a staple of many meals, but I found so many other delicious options too!
Here are some of the top food experiences I had all over Southern Africa, from Cape Town to Bulawayo:
1. Caterpillar in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Caterpillars are a traditional food in Zimbabwe and serve as a cheap and easily obtainable source of protein. I had it twice during my camping trip. It was fried, whole and a side to dinner. It was crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and without a strong taste. I was happy to try another insect but I probably won’t seek it out on another visit though.
2. Orientale Salad in Cape Town, South Africa
The edamame seeds in this Orientale salad from Col’Cacchio were everything! The salad was a perfect combination of chicken, chopped lettuce, julienned carrots, cranberries, coriander, red onion, almond flakes, edamame beans, and sesame seeds. The oriental dressing was unbelievable and the texture was a perfect combination of smooth and crunchy. The best I ever had.
3. Pap and Tripe in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Pap is a starchy dish made from corn. Chef Duncan Welgemoed says it’s “like a soft polenta. It’s subtle and perfect to act as a vehicle for stronger flavours”. I had it at a local spot in Victoria Falls where it was served with beef tripe. I’m not a big fan of tripe, but I gave it another try and I’m happy I did. The flavour of the tripe was delicious and the ribbed texture didn’t bother me as much as I had remembered.
4. Denning Vleis in Cape Town, South Africa
In Cape Town, I learned about the history of Indonesians, Malaysians and East Africans slaves brought to the region and discovered the intense cuisine that has resulted from the mixing of their food traditions with those of the Dutch and indigenous Africans. Cape Malay cuisine is flavourful, making abundant use of spices such as cumin, star anise, tamarind, cinnamon, and turmeric. Biesmiellah restaurant in the Muslim neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap is disputably the best in the city. I had Denning Vleis there, a popular dish of lamb chops in a sweet and sour, tamarind sauce. So good.
5. Braai, or BBQ in Kruger National Park, South Africa
I thought Canadians went a little crazy for barbeque meats due to our short warm season, but it’s clear now that South Africans take this stuff seriously too. South African Braais typically include boerewors, sosaties, kebabs, marinated chicken, pork and lamb chops, steaks, sausages and in coastal areas, fish and crayfish. I enjoyed great braais in Kruger National Park, and at Amadoda Braai in Cape Town.
Have you travelled around Southern Africa? What are some of your favourite foods? Let me know below!