Minnesota Farmer


Food, Glorious South African Food
August 25, 2017, 7:26 am
Filed under: church, food, Ondini circuit, Shetek Conference, South Africa, travel

We were well fed on our trip, our South African hosts saw to that.  The food was differently spiced, long on protein and starch, and filling.

Breakfast always included eggs, whether scrambled or hard-boiled, bacon, more of a Canadian style and more meaty that we use in Minnesota, and toast.  Sometimes there was oatmeal or something like the grits of the southern U.S.  Hot dogs, served cold, might also be part of breakfast.

Drinks would include some type of fruit juice, hot chocolate, tea, instant coffee or cappuccino.

Milk in much of the rest of the world is processed differently and is shelf stable, so it is not refrigerated.  That was the case here.  South Africans like lots of milk in their coffee and tea, so there was always a pitcher of hot milk at meals.  They would also have white and a crystalline brown sugar as well as honey to sweeten your tea, coffee or porridge.

Water was always bottled.  We bought it in 1 or 2 liter jugs.  Aside from the fact that drinking tap water in a foreign land is usually suspect, the local tap water had a sulfur smell to it.

Soda brands are different.  The largest selling soda is Iron Brew.  Other brands include Appletiser and Coo-ee.  Sparletta is the local branch of Coca-Cola.  Sodas come in flavors we do not usually see like pineapple, pomegranate, orange, ginger beer, grape, lemon / lime, cream soda, lemonade and raspberry.  It is possible to find a Mt. Dew there, but not easily.  If you want it with less sugar you order your soda lite.

Main meals usually included rice or potatoes, and a curried beef or chicken.  It was also possible that the noon meal included sandwiches or cold hot dogs on a bun.  Sausages (bangers) of many different spicing types could appear at any meal.  Their ketchup was called tomato sauce and was differently spiced than ours is.  For more festive meals they barbecued sausages or a thin cut of beef, usually from the front shoulder, that cost less than what we might buy.

Different combinations of foods were often served.  There was a carrot and white bean dish that was really good.  Beets were served at most meals as was some type of cabbage dish, both were recently harvested from area gardens.  Potatoes had also recently been harvested, other times of the year, white corn would replace it as the starch.  Also on the menu at times was squash, served sliced after cooking.

What they call dumplings, a type of bread made with cake flour and cooked in a double boiler, was a common side dish.  It was too crumbly to use as bread except to soak up some meat juices, but they were good.

We did eat at restaurant chains if we were on the road.  McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried were in the area, but we avoided those.  Kentucky Fried Chicken is the largest restaurant chain in the country.  South Africans do love their chicken. Even burger and pizza joints had menus that were more chicken than any other protein.   Other grab and go food services included Steers, Whimpy and Debonairs Pizza.  

Just 10 km down the road was Thokozisa Center.  The restaurant had a decent menu and free internet.  Menu items could include wild game like ostrich and antelope, plus sea food, pasta and pizza.  There were also some small stores that sold clothing, furniture and touristy stuff.  We stopped there on both of our free nights.  For cool nights part of the restaurant was inside, but most of the seating was outside under thatched roofs.

For as close as it is to the Diaconal Center, I surprised to find that I was the only one who knew about it.  Thank you Simpewi for introducing it to me.

Castle and Hansa became our beers of choice when in South Africa.  Bottles and cans of the size we are used to were common, but you could get your beer in liter bottles.

My most unusual South African meal was served there years ago when I was served boiled beef on a large wooden tray.  It was a Sunday noon meal, and I was eating outside with the men.  There had been a wedding and the family was gathering to eat one of the dowry cows.  With little refrigeration, the whole clan was called in to help eat it.

That and the beef head served this year tell you a lot of the difference in culture that we have around food.

It is plain to see the influence of both England and Germany on the food we were fed.  Bits of India and Asia appear in the spicing and the Americas in the presence of corn, potato and squash.  Eating was always an international adventure in South Africa.

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