World-renowned chef, author and Emmy-winning television personality Anthony Bourdain visits South Africa in the next episode of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," airing Sunday, October 20, at 9 p.m. ET. Follow the show on Twitter and Facebook.
South Africa's unique culture - and complex history - shines through in everything the 'rainbow nation' does. Even the country's foodways reflect the diverse demographics of people that call the southernmost point of Africa home.
Before the Suez Canal was excavated, Europeans had to sail around Africa to get to Asia for the silk and spice trades. The journey was so long that explorers often ran out of fresh food and water, resulting in scurvy and oftentimes death.
Coastal city Cape Town was established as a logical restocking point, and was soon settled by a number of different European nationalities, including the Portuguese, Dutch and British.
Not so long ago, if you ordered a cup of coffee in South Africa you needed to specify "filter" to avoid getting instant.
A decade ago, there was no cafe culture, nowhere to go for a flat white and certainly no expectation of locally roasted beans.
Those days are gone. Specialist coffee shops did nearly four times the business here in 2012 as in 2007.
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While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.
A few things are sacred to a South African, and a braai is definitely near the top of that list. A braai (rhymes with fry) is the Saffas version of a barbecue – essentially cooking meat over an open flame. But to us, it goes way beyond that. Its cultural significance is such that braaing has its own day – National Braai Day.
September 24 was designated National Braai Day in 2005. It falls on the same day as Heritage Day – a public holiday that serves to promote “creative expression, our historical inheritance, language, the food we eat as well as the land in which we live,” or in other words, all the things that make South Africa the exceptional place it is.
In cafes across Cape Town, brewing the perfect cup of rooibos has become a fine art.
Measuring just the right amount of tea is key while great care is needed to not allow the leaves to swirl for too long. Once ready, the rooibos cups, gleaming in a sumptuous deep red color, bring with them a reedy scent that greets the noses of the customers waiting to enjoy a sip.
Grown only in South Africa's Western Cape province, the naturally caffeine-free tea used to be a specialist drink appealing to only some taste buds.
Read the full story: "South Africa's rooibos a hit with tea lovers across the world"
You can't help but be stunned by the visual splendor when walking around the Western Cape region of South Africa, in towns like Stellenbosch. Immediately you see why this part of the African continent is so well suited for the wine making craft, which was recently my mission for "Inside Africa."
The mountain ranges here reach upwards of 1,500 meters, circling a valley of rolling hills packed with rich soil. Winds become funneled forces of nature, sending gusts of clay and other minerals over the landscape. This kind of weather and topography help give Western Cape grapes their unique taste - but to make really good wine people have to be smart.
No, it's not made from rabbit. "Bunny chow" originated in the city of Durban, South Africa, and is a vegetarian fast-food dish made from a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry.
Emily Smith is a researcher at CNN. She grew up in Cape Town before moving to the United States and recently wrote a South Africa travel guide for CNN Travel. Her previous article explored how a childhood trip to Disney World gave her an even greater appreciation for fresh food back home.
I grew up in South Africa and moved to the United States. Atlanta to be exact. Home of fried food and sugary drinks.
I hated the food when I first got here. It didn’t taste the same as home, in that it didn’t taste like anything. Chicken was bland no matter how well seasoned it was. The bread was the worst. I love white bread. Adore it. We hardly ever had it growing up, but I think to help ease the transition from South Africa to America my parents allowed my sister and me to eat it.
I distinctly remember sitting down for lunch the first Saturday we were here. Mom had made the lunch we always had Saturdays – fresh bread with a platter of meats and cheeses and salad type stuff from which everyone would make their own sandwich. Simple, but a comfort food back then. I lifted the warm baguette filled with ham and cheese and lettuce and mayo to my mouth preparing myself to taste home and instead got the yeasty, vinegary reality of sourdough bread. I hated it.
Emily Smith is a researcher at CNN. She grew up in Cape Town before moving to the United States and recently wrote a South Africa travel guide for CNN Travel.
I remember my first encounter with American food. It was Disney World, Florida, during the June and July school holiday of 1996. My younger sister Helen and I had been begging my dad to take us for years; he’d wanted to wait until we would remember the experience. Aside from the rides and the characters and the heat, the memory of the food we ate will always stick with me.
My dad comes from a conservative Afrikaans background, it’s similar to Dutch. We had red meat, a starch and a vegetable almost every night for dinner growing up. The only time we ate pasta was when he was out of town on business, and heaven forbid there was fish on the menu until a few years ago.