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Top 5 Traditional Food of Africaby Dalene Ingham-Brown

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African cuisine is about more than just 'filling the gap'. Its about mixing food and culture to bring people together in the most delicious way possible. Depending on your route, an overland trip through Africa offers stops along the way where you can experience the food and culture of Africa. Below are Africa's top five delectable discoveries:

1.  Bunny Chow
Good on the Indian chap who decided to hollow out half a loaf of bread and fill that sucker with curry!  Durban is now well known for its amazing surfing beaches and as the place where Bunny Chow was born: where some guy slapped it on a plate and had dinners screaming for more. Someone get that man a Bells!

Experience it: Overland trips that include Durban

Bunny_Chow_by_Arnold_Goodway
Photo by Arnold Goodway

2.  Braai
A braai is similar to the Aussie ‘barbie’ (barbecue), except we (Africa) came up with the concept first. Just saying. In the South African Sterkfontein Caves lies the World Heritage Site ‘The Cradle of Humankind’, where the first set of ‘burnt’ animal bones were found. Burnt animal bones: sounds like a braai to me, well at my Dad’s house anyway! The main difference between a braai and a barbecue is that a braai cooks meat over an open flame, where as a barbecue usually cooks meat using a gas lit flame. Braai meat has that succulent flavour of basting seared by real burning wood/coal. Using a barbecue powered by gas to cook my food instead of a braai? A camel’s backside and a candle would probably be cheaper.

A ‘braai’ is a social custom involving cooking of food, enjoyed in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Zambia where a grid is no stranger to 'braaivleis' and 'boereworse'.  The braai stereotype in South Africa is that all the men congregate around the fire, talking about rugby and politics, beer in hand, while their little women gather inside, making salad and chatting about the latest sale. This is actually pretty accurate.

Experience it: Overland trips that include Cape Town

Braai_by_Blyzz
Photo by Blyzz

3. Potjie Kos
Potjie kos is a delicious stew of veggies, meat and starch. A potjie is the three legged cast iron pot that you cook the food in. ‘Potjie kos’ is an Afrikaans term meaning ‘Small pot of food’, although nowadays your average potjie pot holds about 6 litres. Small pot of food? Sure. For a sasquatch. It’s no wonder making ‘a potjie’ is such a social affair, with the meal taking between 3 to 6 hours to prepare. Finally coming off the open wood fire, the veggies and starch are soft and the meat is tender as a mother’s love.

Experience it: Overland trip passing through the Panorama Route

potjie_on_the_fire_ejozidotcodotza
Photo by eJozi

4.  Mopane Worms
Once upon a time, there lived a Mopane worm, let’s call him Bert. Bert was fat and juicy and lived in a Mopane tree. One morning Bert arose early as he always did, shuffled along branches as he always did, nibbled on leaves as he always did, when suddenly an African picked him off the tree, removed his intestines, dried him and ate him for lunch... as he always did. Found in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Angola and Malawi, the Mopane worm is filled with nutrients and is rich in protein. Commonly found in markets; eating a Mopane worm is just one of those things you’ve gotta do when you visit rural Africa!

Experience it: Overland trips to Zimbabwe

Mopane_Worms_byNH53
Photo by NH53

5.  Biltong
Biltong was discovered in South Africa. The Dutch settlers decided to experiment with drying meat and rubbing it with spices. Loads of people think that jerky is the same as biltong. Wrong! Beef jerky is like the famous Paris Hilton look alike: Sweet, but not the real thing. Jerky’s taste, spices and production method are totally different from that of biltong. Slivers of biltong are absolutely amazing in pastas, salads, potjies and just on their own.

Experience it: Trans Africa overland trips

Biltong_Arnold_goodway
Photo by Arnold Goodway

African cuisine is unique and absolutely delicious, bringing the culture of the people into the preparation and flavour of the food. Now please excuse me while I go clean up the drool I’ve managed to decorate myself with while writing this post. Happy taste bud adventure!

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Tags: cuisine, culture


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