The highlight of South African living is the breakfast, desserts, snacks and drinks. Easy to please anyone. Breakfast varies between “mieliepap” and “beskuit”. “Mieliepap” is the same consistency as polenta and served with a teaspoon of sugar, butter and milk. A great creamy and healthy breakfast to see you through the morning hours. “Beskuit” is rusks, dough baked in the oven, broken apart and then places back in the oven to dry out. The perfect breakfast, specially for those living on farms, is home made rusks, dunked into your morning coffee. If you are more of a tea lover, try the great local herbal tea called “rooibos”
During the morning you can chew on some “biltong” which is salty dried meat or “droëwors”, which is dried sausage. You can not watch any rugby or cricket match without this salty snack. By now it is time for more coffee served with banana, ginger of mealie bread, smeared with butter. Mealie bread is a sweet bread, baked with sweet corn. You will probably wonder why we have such an obsession with mealies? Well, mealies basically are Africa’s staple food. We use it to make breakfast, bread, crisps (or chips) and many more.
After you finish this, it is time for your main meal of the day. And then the BEST course arrives, the dessert. Most puddings are baked pies served with custard and ice cream or a special sauce. Malva pudding is one of the old time favourites, a great, sweet tasting spongy apricot dessert with a lovely sweet sauce. Cottage pudding is a type of cake pudding served with a special white wine sauce.
If you prefer a colder dessert, this is the place to be. Enjoy a fresh fruit salad with ice cream, made from local seasonal fruit. The most famous fruits are grapes, apples, naartjies (a type of tangerine), peaches, apricots, mangoes, melons and many more. There is nothing more refreshing than a fresh fruit salad. If you like ice cream, there are special treats in store for you as well. Try the watermelon or papaya flavoured ice cream in a cone or on its own.
As a special treat, why not try a Dom Pedro? This is ice cream with a little drop of milk and a shot of your favourite whiskey of liqueur. Try Amarula liqueur, made from the potent marula fruit or van der Hum liqueur, made from fresh naartjies. This is a treat you should not pass on.
Later the afternoon you can enjoy some “koeksisters”, a very sweet delicacy. Afrikaans “koeksisters” are twisted pastries, deep fried and then sweetened with a very sweet sauce. Another favourite of mine is “ystervarkies”, a sponge cake, dunked in a home made chocolate sauce, rolled in coconut! Doesn’t that just sound magnificent?
If you prefer something less sweet, try the “melktert” (milk tart). This is a milk-based tart, absolutely gorgeous if you eat it warm, just as it is made. If you want something savoury, try the “souttert” (savoury tart) consisting mostly of vienna sausages, cheese, onions, herbs and egg.
For the evening you can enjoy one the best known foods, “vetkoek”. This is a treat. You can enjoy “vetkoek” in three ways. Dunk it in your tea, butter with syrup and cheese or stuffed with curry mince. No matter which one you choose, you will not be disappointed. If you are looking for something smaller, try the“plaatkoekies” (almost like crumpets) served with marmite or syrup or maybe try some pancakes with cinnamon sugar?
During the day you will never go thirsty. If you like warm drinks, there are the many varieties of strong coffees, regular tea, “rooibos” tea, hot chocolate and my favourite, milo. This is a great drink filled with vitamins and minerals, made with warm or cold milk. If you prefer cold drinks, try the various ice teas and fruit juices. Guava, orange, grinadella, fruit cocktail, grape, peach, pear, apple, apricot and mango are only a few choices you have in fruit juices. Guava and mango must be two of the most loved choices.
If you are looking for a bottle of wine to accompany you meals, there are hundreds of local Cape wines to choose from. You will be spoilt for choice. Make sure you try as much as you can and enjoy the hospitality while you are visiting the rainbow country, South Africa.
These are only a few of the great traditional South African recipes you can try. You will need a long time to try them all. Enjoy!
I was born in Vanderbijlpark, South Africa and grew up in Vereeniging. The first time I left home was in 2002 to go to England on a working holiday. Met my husband halfway around the world, got married in South Africa and now have 2 beautiful children. One boy and one girl... Started writing down recipes I grew up with when I was living in England and love sharing them with others.