A History of South African Cooking

    South African cuisine, although surprising, actually has Dutch origins. In 1652, the Dutch landed in the Cape, and it was this need for sustenance that created the country’s first basis for traditional cuisine. The Dutch East India Company were one of the first colonisers of South Africa, and they began to set up ‘refreshing stations’ for ship crews who were travelling between African ports.

    Day 16 - East African Braised Chicken
    South African Cookingktpupp / Foter / CC BY-NC

    As the slave business became more profitable, orders were given to start farming the Cape land for vegetables and meat, and for the next 150 years the Dutch ruled the South of Africa – thus, in huge influence upon present day South African cuisine.

    French, German and Malay Influences

    From rice to spices – mainly nutmeg and cinnamon – to a variety of meats and deep frying cooking techniques, there are a number of amazing dishes to be experienced when holidaying in South Africa. However not all of them are Dutch in origin. Over time, South African cuisine was further influenced by other European countries, and in the 1600s a number of slaves were brought from Indonesia, Java and Cape Malay.  With these slaves came flavoured Masalas, stronger spices and exotic condiments – most notably chutneys.

    In the late 1600s, the Germans and French also settled in South Africa, and began to farm as well as colonise. Famous for their bratwurst, the Germans were the first to introduced Boerewors, the African sausage, and this is typically made from allspice, cloves, nutmeg, coriander seeds, pork and beef! The French also contributed to South African cuisine, mainly by planting vines and making wine, thus introducing preservatives and jams to traditional baking and dishes.

    If you’re thinking about flying to South Africa this year to experience the amazing cuisine, be sure to book with Cheapflights!

    Nomad Food

    From the Dutch to the Germans and French, all the immigrants brought over by these settlers eventually became a new country – the Afrikaner, and many made livings through farming the land and tending to cattle. As immigrants moved further inland, they had access to more cattle and fruit trees, and were subsequently known as ‘trekboere’. Farming was the only way to survive during this period, and from shooting wild game to roasting the meat on the fire, many of these food preparation elements are still used in South Africa today.

    As the trekboere began to start trading with the tribal Africans from the north, South African cuisine became even more diverse, introducing porridge (pap), tomatoes, cheese and onions to traditional dishes. Sometimes, the trading journeys would take so long that the trekboere wouldn’t be able to carry enough pots or cooking supplies with them, so quite innovatively, they created one simple meal that combined nearly all the ingredients they had come to buy – potjiekos, consisting of meats, vegetables, spices, dairy and starch.

    Cooked on an open fire, the remaining juices from the cooking pots were also used to create the basis of gravy, and when combined with bread, this constituted to a healthy meal that is still available to order in many South African resturants!

    I have spent the past 15 years in the travel industry. Today focused on promoting different ways of traveling, I'm in the process of creating few travel websites, which will be launched shortly. I have a great passion for travel and the travel industry. My goal here atTtripOutlook is to connect to other proffessionals in the travel industry and to exchange experience.

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