As the world turns its attention to South Africa during the World Cup, will they also be thinking “let’s order South African tonight?”
Bars, restaurants, homes and even some offices are packed with nail-biting fans as they watch and cook up their allegiance to their respective teams.
But with the World Cup excitement lasting until the final match on July 11, all that cheering can certainly leave stomachs grumbling as loud as those droning vuvuzelas.
When that rumble in the jungle occurs, rarely do you hear soccer fans suggest a nice meal out at the South African joint down the road.
So what exactly is South African food all about?
"You hear this word a lot, but it's very much fusion," 37-year-old chef Justin Anthony said. His restaurant, 10 Degrees South, serves traditional South African fare for his homesick compatriots and curious eaters alike in Atlanta, Georgia.
Anthony, a South African expatriate from Johannesburg, opened the restaurant in 1998. In a World Cup twist of fate, Anthony was a professional soccer player in South Africa before becoming a restaurateur.
Referred to as the "rainbow cuisine," South African food draws on flavors from its Portuguese, German, Dutch, Malaysian and Mediterranean settlers. The nation of South Africa totes the multicultural slogan, "World in One Country," and their cuisine embodies the same ideal.
South Africa is a melting pot in its finest sense - a melody of flavors from colonial times, East Indies slaves and the indigenous African people. Traditional European dishes like escargot are served on the same table as ostrich, antelope and richly spiced curry sauces.
"While no dish can be said to be particularly South African, the subtle adaptation of these 'imported' recipes in the addition to local ingredients and the introduction of innovative cooking methods have made for original cuisine," Magdaleen Van Wyck and Pat Barton write in "Traditional South African Cooking."
Since the start of the World Cup, chef Anthony says he's seen a growth in the awareness of South African cuisine. Three of the more popular South African dishes are sosaties, bobotie and boerewors.
Sosaties are cubed pieces of meat, typically mutton or beef, that have been marinated, skewered, grilled and then topped with a sweet apricot-curry sauce. Bobotie is a sweet ground beef curry that is topped with savory custard and baked until golden brown. And boerewors (pictured above) is a popular lean, spiced sausage traditionally made with beef, although some variations include pork and lamb. (In Afrikaans, "boere" means "farmers" and "wors" means sausage.)
South Africans are also quite the grill masters. In their variation of a neighborly backyard barbecue, social gatherings of friends and family often revolve around "braaing" - where beef, chicken, calamari, fish and other meats are marinated and then "braai-ed" or barbecued.
Save room for dessert? Try the Malva pudding, a spongy pudding of Dutch descent, sweetly flavored with apricot jam (think of it as South African bread pudding).
Do you have a favorite South African bite? Let us know in the comments.
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