Exotic Eats: Southern Africa

Posted by on Aug 15, 2013 in Botswana, Exotic Eats, Namibia, South Africa | 0 comments

The food in Africa as a whole was not my favorite. To be fair, a good majority of my time touring Africa was spent either camping or volunteering….not exactly the time for culinary greatness.  While we tried to cook while camping, I think that I ate more PB&J in two weeks than I did during my entire childhood. And while volunteering in Zambia, we were served delicious comfort food (stick to your rib casseroles, roasts, and pastas) but it was not the authentic cuisine. However, there were a few dishes throughout our travels through Southern Africa (Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa) that are worth mentioning.


As I mentioned earlier, Mike and I were extremely well fed in Zambia during our time building huts in the village of Mwandi.  Most dishes however, were Americanized or inspired by British food.  One interesting local food of note is nshima. It looks like mashed potatoes but literally tastes like nothing. Nshima is a maize based starchy staple for Zambians and is served with almost everything. I even heard one local Zambian say that a meal is not complete without it.



Just as the culture in Namibia is an odd dichotomy between the indigenous tribal people and the German colonizers, so too is the food. It was both strange and enjoyable to eat a traditional German sausage with sauerkraut at a German pub one evening in Swakopmund and locally caught game the next. Mike enjoyed two different types of meat: oryx and kudu.  It was a bit surreal because we saw both of these animals in the wild while on our safari and then encountered them on our plate. Kudu, an antelope commonly found in Africa, was lean and tasted similar to venison.  And oryx was flavorful and smooth. 

South Africa:

Mike and I instantly felt as if we were rejoining the modern world from the second we crossed the border into South Africa en route to Cape Town.  In fact, we often felt like we were in America or Europe instead of Africa when we were strolling the streets, sitting at a sidewalk cafe, or indulging at the trendiest burger joint (thank you Royale Eatery for one of the best burgers of my life). Yet even though South Africa as a country is entirely modern, chic, and culinarily advanced, much of their food is still steeped in tradition.

Mike felt entirely meat deprived in Asia. South African food made up for that…big time…as the cuisine is heavily meat-based.  This focus on carne has led to the distinctively South African social gathering known as a braai, or barbecue. Braai is widely popular and includes meat, especially boerewors -spicy sausages. (The South Africans even celebrate Braai Day every year!). Luckily, this method of cooking has bled into South Africa’s neighboring countries as well and we enjoyed an authentic braai at our bush camp in Botswana and several nights over Mike’s self-made campfire dinners in Namibia. He enjoyed this method of cooking so much that I am seriously considering buying him a braai for his 30th birthday.  The flavor that cooking local, fresh meats over a wood fire coals is second to none.

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