South Africa’s Tummy

There are so many more word differences like the ones mentioned in yesterdays post that I definitely want to touch on some more of them in a later post. But as I rummaged about in my kitchen in search of something to eat, I started thinking about the foods in my country. I’ll mention some that are considered ‘traditional dishes’, but I will also mention some products that are ‘exclusively South African’ – although with the internet being what it is, I am sure you could find somewhere to purchase the products, if your stomach so desired 😉

Koeksisters – pronounced ‘cook-sisters’. (An Afrikaans word) These are truly sinfully delicious, if you have a sweet tooth. I can usually only manage one or two, but my daughter could eat a whole bag of ten in one sitting, if I allowed her to. They’re about 4 inches in length, and are made of dough, which is braided/twisted and then deep-fried. Once the deep-frying is done, they are dipped into a cold, sugary syrup, and are best served/eaten straight from the refrigerator. I know someone who makes the best ones I have ever tasted. They’re crisp on the outside, and soft and juicy on the inside. As you bite into it, the juice/syrup runs down your fingers and into your hands. If you eat another, you’re guaranteed the stickiness will find it’s way to your forearms. Eating them can be a messy job, but someone has to do it! 😉

Biltong – Similar to beef jerky, but not. I always use the beef jerky reference, simply because biltong is also a form of dried meat. But I have a feeling that that is where the similarity ends. I’m not sure though, since I have never had beef jerky.
There are different variations: Kudu, Beef, Venison….and recently I found bacon biltong. It’s not quite the same taste as the traditional biltong, but it was rather delicious – it is bacon, after all. Biltong is air dried for 3-7 days, and then doused in vinegar, before adding salt and various spices. The biltong is dehydrated as one large strip of meat, and you can either buy it as a whole, or ask to have it sliced. It is probably the most delicious ‘savory snack’ of our country – but can be on the expensive side for us…not so expensive for you, and you have the exchange rate to thank for that 😉

Ouma Rusks – (Ouma is pronounced ‘omar’, without the ‘r’; and is an Afrikaans word which translates into ‘Grandma’.)
Rusks, I think, may be the South African word for this treat. I did a google search and I think it’s similar to what Americans might call ‘Biscotti’.
This particular brand of rusk has been around since 1939, and it has yet to disappoint. There is nothing quite like a cup of coffee, and a buttermilk Ouma rusk.
It is essentially double baked bread dough, and comes in a wide variety of flavors – the most recent addition being ‘condensed milk’ flavor. A box of those lasted two days in my house – but then again, I don’t buy rusks very often, so when I do, my children just can’t get enough of them!

Amarula – Amarula is a cream liqueur with an alcohol content of 17% by volume. It’s made from the fruit of the African Marula Tree – which we also call the Elephant Tree…and sometimes is referred to as the Marriage Tree. Sugar and cream is added to the fruit, to create a delicious tasting alcoholic beverage.  It won a gold medal in 2006 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and I have read that they are trying to break into the American market, but I don’t know how long ago that was – so by now, it might be something my American friends could purchase in store? I am not a big drinker, but I have tasted a glass of Amarula, with crushed ice. It’s smooth, and definitely enjoyable when sipped slowly. At Christmas time, my friend gave me a box of Amarula chocolates, and I have to say, they were every bit as delicious as the drink itself – minus the alcoholic content. The best part was that my children didn’t care for the ‘fruity’ flavor, and so I could eat the whole box alone.

Mrs H.S. Balls Chutney – Although the name brand is slightly disturbing (and was selected way before my time, so my generation had nothing to do with it), there is nothing disturbing about this condiment, other than its addictive taste! What I love most about this particular brand is that it was a recipe that got shipwrecked…and survived. And the shipwreck? It happened right here, in the seas of the town where I live, in 1852! In doing some research, I was pleased to discover that there IS in fact a US range – so I won’t have to go without it when I visit 😉 I am still more inclined to go with the ‘Original Recipe’, but enjoy the Peach Chutney too. I don’t eat it a lot, but always keep a bottle in my refrigerator, because there are those times…oh yes, there are those times!

Bunny Chow – No, you will not be eating a rabbit. So if you ever see this and order one, in the hopes of some form of rabbit stew, then you will be disappointed. Originally created in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal here in South Africa, it’s a delicious meal that can be found all over South Africa. It consists of a hollowed out loaf of bread (although I buy the smaller version if I do get it, which is usually a quarter loaf of bread – and still never manage to finish it all)  filled with curry – the Indian kind, although not always too hot. A lot of places will let you choose your filling when it comes to the ‘burning your mouth’ possibility, and you can opt for a mild curry filling. I prefer to have it hot! 🙂

Afval  – another Afrikaans word, pronounced ‘uf- file’ (although I found it difficult to tell you how to pronounce that last part, and I still may be wrong. I know how to pronounce it, but trying to explain it is sometimes tough).  This word translates into ‘waste’.
I have to mention that I have no personal experience when it comes to the taste of this dish – I don’t eat livers, hearts, kidneys, or anything of that sort.
This particular dish is made from the stomach lining and trotters of lamb. It’s either served curried or stewed, and I have been told that if you are a person who enjoys oxtail, then you’ll enjoy this dish too because the meat is very tender and tasteful.
if you ever happen to visit South Africa, and taste it, please let me know if my information  on the tastiness of the dish is correct. I’m afraid that tasting it is not a sacrifice I am willing to make, even for the purposes of this blog!

Sheep’s Head – Yes, you read that right. And it’s popular. But again, it’s something I have never tasted and probably never will – not like this anyway. You get served the entire head of the sheep on your plate, after it’s been cooked for several hours in the oven. I am told that the meat is, once again, full of flavor and extremely tender. I’ll leave it to you to decide!

Frikkadel – pronounced ‘frick-a-dell’.  This is something I do eat, and my son says I make the best ones, but I think that’s just because he wishes I would make them more often. They’re basically just meatballs – deep fried balls of minced meat, combined with grated onions and carrots, bread crumbs, a little bit of whisked egg, and herbs and spices. They are sometimes served with a sauce, but not usually. Smaller balls are often found on what we call a ‘snack platter’, which is pretty much what it says it is. A platter with various ‘small’ versions of foods, for snacking purposes – and usually supplied for entertainment purposes. Sometimes, I will make a snack platter for my children for supper – I can hide the vegetables in the makings of the platter, and they get happily consumed 😉

Amasi – pronounced ‘uh-maas-i’. It’s basically fermented milk, and I am told it tastes a lot like cottage cheese or plain yoghurt. I have never tried it as a drink on its own because it has a tendency to have a lumpy texture, but it is very popular amongst black South Africans. I have, however, used it in a recipe for ‘traditional bread’, and it certainly didn’t affect the taste negatively in any way!

Umngqusho – this is one of my favorite ‘black South African’ dishes. I don’t have a clue how to tell you to pronounce this word, so I will just say that an English way to ask for it if you’re ever here is to request ‘samp and beans’.
There are so many different variations, but the base ingredients are stamp mielies/samp (which are dried corn kernels that have been stamped and chopped until broken into pieces) and sugar beans. The best way to make this particular dish is by soaking the samp and sugar beans overnight. The next day, you begin the cooking process, adding onions and butter and often times a ‘soup meat on the bone’, for added flavor. The cooking process usually takes about four hours, then it’s ready to be drained and consumed! I cook mine with the meat in it, but when I serve it up, I keep the meat out of it. I add extra butter and salt, and have been known to overindulge – in other words, it’s something I will always have a second helping of! It can be quite filling though, which sadly rules out a third 😉

There are so many other foods and branded products that I have yet to mention, but I hope you enjoyed the ‘taste’ of South Africa’s food variety for today!

4 thoughts on “South Africa’s Tummy

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