South African Cuisine

Thursday, March 8th, 2007 at 12:00 am

African cuisineSouth African cuisine as it is known today has been the product of over three centuries of colorful culinary history and evolution. The unique cuisine of the country was developed through a combination of different cultural influences from the early settlers of the land to its eventual colonizers who brought more variety and uniqueness to its culinary art collection, so to say.

Early South African cuisine was characterized mostly by food made and prepared by the Khoisans, hunter gatherers who were considered as the earliest settlers of the of the country. They were predominantly basic meat based food made from the spoils of the hunt.

It was later on that the Bantus were able to introduce corn, sweet potato, squash as well as vegetables into the culinary mix. This was believed to have brought about the first stages of development for South African cuisine.

After the first development, then came the European colonizers who were able to bring to South Africa the rich flavors from their own part of the world. The Dutch and the English were able to introduce sausage which, as the people were then able to develop it, became known as "boerewors" or "farmer’s sausage". Also came the "bobotie" or "Shepherd’s pie" and the "potjiekos" or practical stews.

Aside from the European influences, South African cuisine also has dishes that took some of their styles and flavor from popular Portuguese recipes. Other influences came from slaves who were brought by the European colonizers from India and Malaysia were able to bring with them their own culinary specialties such as curry and other spices into the typical South African dishes.

South African cuisine also offers a wide range of special exotic dishes that can be considered uniquely its own. People may be able to try out culinary challenges from crocodile sirloins to fried caterpillars to sheep heads. All three are reputed to be delicious albeit being perceived as too challenging for some people.

For the not-quite so brave palates, there are also a myriad of indigenous delicacies such as "biltong" or dried, salted meat as well as the popular "braii" or the South African style barbecue. And with the varied influences from the different countries that became a part of South African history, the country was able to develop what is now known as "rainbow cuisine" which now applies to the extraordinary range of cuisines that this unique nation has in store for its visitors.