What to eat on your South African road trip
One of the great joys of travel is trying new and exciting foods, and a South African road trip is no exception. The country’s multi-cultural society makes for a tantalizing hodgepodge of flavors and tastes – so instead of sticking to pizza and toasties, seize the opportunity to embark on a gastronomic adventure.
Foot and Biltong by Jeppestown
Here’s our mouth-watering list of tasty local nosh to look out for on your next South African road trip:
Whether it’s the beef, ostrich or game variety, biltong is the perfect on-the-go snack for your South African road trip. This cured meat ranges from dry, brittle ‘chilli sticks’ to moist, fatty chunks of meat, so try a few different cuts and styles to find the one that really hits the spot.
Pap is a thick maize meal porridge that makes up a large portion of the staple diet of many southern African countries. Popular in Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaans cultures, there’s more than one way to eat it. Stywe pap is thick and sticky enough to roll into balls and is usually served with sous (a tomato relish) or meat. Slap pap has a smoother, porridge-like consistency and is commonly eaten at breakfast with sugar and amasi (fermented milk).
Having a braai – grilling meat on an open fire – is so popular in South Africa that national holiday Heritage Day is often dubbed ‘National Braai Day’. Known as shisa nyama in isiZulu, a braai in a South African township is a social event where strangers and friends alike gather to eat, drink and be merry. For a bona fide shisa nyama experience, make sure that your South African road trip itinerary includes a stop at Mzoli’s restaurant in Gugulethu, a township just outside of Cape Town.
Walkie-talkies is the deceptively cute name for chicken feet and heads. Chicken feet (also called ‘runaways’) are best eaten hot off the open fire and are a popular street food in South African townships.
Koeksisters, melktert and malva pudding
Koeksisters, melktert and malva pudding make up the unofficial Holy Trinity of Afrikaans sweet treats. Sickly-sweet koeksisters are braided, syrup-coated pastries. Melktert is a cinnamon-sprinkled tart consisting of a sweet pastry crust and a milk-based custard filling. Finally, malva pudding is a hot sponge pudding commonly made with apricot jam and served with custard or ice cream. All three are absolutely to die for.
A favorite amongst the Cape Malay community, bobotie is a dish made with minced meat and baked with an egg-based topping. Often made with raisins or sultanas, bobotie has a trademark sweet and spicy flavor and is usually served with yellow rice and apricot chutney.
A bunny chow is constructed by hollowing out half a loaf of white bread and then filling the resulting cavity with curry. Bunny chow originated from Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal province, and it’s still the best place to eat a bunny chow in the country. But, beware: Durban is known for its hot curries. If you struggle with the spicy stuff, slather your bunny chow with plain yogurt and throw in a few banana slices to help cool things down.
World class wine
A South African road trip is a wine lover’s dream. The Western Cape, in particular, is known for its gorgeous wine routes and picturesque vineyards. The wine itself, of course, is absolutely superb.