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Rainbow cuisine with influences from all over the world
After visiting Bali and Thailand, this time my travels took me to beautiful South Africa. Although I didn't know what to expect from this country, I had heard nothing but positive things about South Africa and its people, not to mention its cuisine. It was time for the adventure to begin!
Travelling along the vine-lined roads between Stellenbosch and George was much like being in Tuscany. But then you would visit a mall in Cape Town and it would feel just like the States. And strolling along the white sandy beaches in Clifton, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were in the Caribbean.
South African cuisine is just as diverse as its different regions and is equally as extensive and difficult to categorize. It's no wonder then that it is referred to as rainbow cuisine. South Africa's past as a former Dutch colony is clearly reflected in its menus. The country's most popular desserts include malva pudding, melktert and koeksisters. The latter is a deep-fried braided pastry that is drenched in syrup and left to dry.
In colonial times, sailors and immigrants also brought recipes from Europe, Asia and India. Nowadays these recipes are combined with local South African dishes.
South Africans eat a lot of meat. The term braai (Afrikaans for «barbecue» or «roast») can be heard all over. It not only refers to the preparation of the meat but also the social aspect of eating. In addition to biltong, a type of dried meat, a spiced minced meat dish known as bobotie is also very popular. Vegetarians needn't worry though. There are usually always vegetarian options, too. I tried what is known as «potjiekos», a traditional farmer's stew prepared in a cast iron pot with vegetables, beans, squash and sweet potatoes – delicious and nutritious!
Many traditional dishes can be enjoyed a little outside of Cape Town, like in Albertinia, for example. We sampled some amazing food there in the Garden Route Game Lodge following an extensive safari. For breakfast they traditionally serve omelette, eggs, toast and muesli, and in the evenings there is a choice of international dishes and African specialities.
From Albertinia we then continued on to Stellenbosch. Stellenbosch is particularly well known for wine tasting and hiking. Wine lovers won't be disappointed in South Africa as the country's Mediterranean climate gives the wine a fruitiness and a high alcohol content. Among the most popular grape varieties are the South African Pinotage, which was developed in 1924 as a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. When it comes to white wines, you will find Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc on practically every wine list. We also visited a market in Stellenbosch at the weekend and sampled pap, a delicious, fluffy maize porridge. Maize is the most commonly grown grain in South Africa, so it's no wonder you find it everywhere.
En route to Cape Town, we spent a night in the picturesque town of Hermanus. The coast is a wonderful place to dine out in the moonlight. The locals told us that the «Lemon Butta Seafood Bistro on the Bay» was THE place to go for fish, sushi and stunning sea views. They were right!
Our final destination was Cape Town. To a certain extent, Cape Town is the epitome of rainbow cuisine. From sushi to ramen, steak to vegan, hot dogs to Michelin-star cuisine, food courts to street food – there really is something for everyone here. One particularly interesting detail is that many cafés and restaurants are located in small second-hand shops, clothes shops, workshops, art galleries and coworking spaces.
So whether you're shopping, eating, drinking, admiring art, dancing or chatting, everything happens in the same place here. The market hall in the V&A Waterfront is particularly impressive. We tried wraps and sampled all kinds of finger food at the food market. Our favourites were the butkie – a vegan stew – and the truffle fries. It was worth travelling all the way to South Africa for those alone.
Of course there are now also lots of vegan cafés, which have gained a following thanks in no small part to social media. These places are known to sell trendy foods such as matcha lattes, smoothie bowls and avocado toast. If you're looking for something completely different, I recommend trying the unicorn latte at Nourish'd on Kloof Street: This coffee with colourful sprinkles captures the current unicorn trend. Other great cafés that are not to be missed include:
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