Joburg Expat: South African Food

May 20, 2010

South African Food

I just got a note home from Impatience’s class about her class social next week, and I had to pick if she wanted to eat “boerewors” or “prego roll.” Must be the equivalent of hamburger and hot dog?

The yoghurt here is a pleasure. Finally something better on offer than fat free! Absolutely heavenly.

Today, I ate the most delicious mango of my life. I also love the Cape berries, or Cape gooseberries. They are yellow, a dark yellow bordering on light orange, slightly bigger than blueberries with a slightly thicker skin, and very tart, in a passion fruit kind of way.

As a German, I have spent half my life searching for good bread. I just hit a veritable bonanza at the Spar Supermarket (a German chain). Not all Spars are the same, but the one in the Broadacres Shopping Centre carries a great selection of rye breads, the swiss rye bread (Schweizerbrot) being our new favorite.

Boerewors turns out to be sausage, just as I thought. There actually is something called the “Boerewors Curtain,” something like an invisible line separating English-speaking South Africa from Afrikaans South Africa, or, less politically correct, the city people from the rednecks. I’m quite pleased that I’ve already picked up such delicious slang.

One thing driving me crazy is that all the meat cuts have different names from what I know. So when you think you’ve just bought Ribeye for your nice braai party on the weekend, you actually end up with something more of a shoesole-type texture. I’m told of several German butchers, so finding one of them will be a project for the near future. Actually, Woolworth’s has quite a nice selection of already-marinated meats for your braai, so I can’t complain.

One thing that is quite startling is the amount of corn meal sold in the supermarkets. There are entire aisles of different bags of corn meal, or, as they call it here, maize. From what I’ve learned, it is a huge staple for the black population (or certain groups thereof), who prepare an oatmeal- or grits-like porridge called mealie (or mielie) pap from it.

The restaurants here are quite good, and very affordable, but I will devote an entire chapter to restaurants later on.

4 comments :

Anonymous said...

Hi again,
Great German butchers not far from fourways BERLINERS. It's in a place called Decor's Park.
Another called SEEMAN'S in Randburg a bit further. I love Berliners, friendly staff, nice cuts.
:-)
Dunke

W. A. Jeffrey said...

Spar is Dutch not German. The variation in quality is likely due to the fact that many Spar stores are franchises. Sometimes (especially with their international outlets) a handful of larger franchise holders will operate several stores within a country. I'm told this is quite common in Africa. The franchise may own several of the larger stores or may have one or two of each format.

Amazing about the cornmeal, I hear that in North Africa (especially Morocco) you see the same thing with couscous and quinoa.

Sine said...

Ha! I stand corrected. Actually, I do that quite a bit - appropriate things that are good and make them German in my mind. Must try and be more thorough. for the longest time I was convinced Nutella must be German, but it is Italian. As long as I don't wake up one day to find out Mercedes and Porsche are made in China...

W. A. Jeffrey said...

That's okay. In my experience, German and good are almost interchangeable. I have never come across a German product that was subpar. That's not to say that there isn't something shoddy out there but at least the things they make that have made it to the USA have been very impressive.