When I come to South Africa we usually stay for a month or two and I get to spend an awful lot of time grocery shopping for my family and I. Far from it being a chore I really enjoy checking out their variety and different foods.
I love spotting the nuances in home cooking when in South Africa and for the first time the other day noticed my Sister in Law’s microwave has some settings that i am not used to seeing on my microwave back home, which form the staple of many South African’s diets: Mealie-Pap (porridge/polenta made from mielie-meal and a staple food of the Bantu inhabitants of Southern Africa), Babotie (spiced minced meat with an egg based topping), and Potato Bake. It’s small things like this that remind me where i am and what i am not used to.
Over the years I’ve been coming to South Africa I’ve noticed a steady increase in the cost of their food prices. It is now on par with the prices in the UK, which is staggering when you think of the imbalance between currencies, the earning power of the UK, the weak Rand to the Pound and the vast amount of food South Africa can grow for itself. How do locals cope with the prices of food? They don’t get to eat the good stuff is the bottom line.
And thats such a shame as the good stuff is great.
Their supermarkets; Checkers, Pick n Pay and high end shops like Woolworths stock such a different range of food from what i’m used to in the UK. So much more meat and exotic fruit and juices which is great if you are a slavering carnivore like me paying with British Pounds.
With a country that has as its favourite past time To Braai (BBQ) their ready-to-range is off the charts. Spatchcock chicken and sasorties (kebabs) with all sorts of marinades, Sausages – from porkies to chicken sausages which are hugely popular to infamous range of Boerworse. Fat or Thin varieties this is South Africa’s very own delicacy often enjoyed in a bread roll.
Meat, meat, glorious meat. We had a braai last night and had a lemon and lime spatchcock chicken, porkies, ostrich fillet steak, halloumi cheese and a caramelised onion potato bake (potatoes layered with cream, cheese and onions) with a parsley and mint feta salad that i made. Geez it was off the yummy chart.
For dessert I prepared strawberries which were the size of my palm and Woolworths vanilla ice cream and a bag of chuckles – their equivalent of Maltesars for the chocolate infusion. Easy yet effective – my kind of food !
Man alive i rolled into bed.
Aside from the flavoursome produce we get to enjoy whilst we are staying here there are a few things we as a family really look forward to having:
– Biltong and Droeworse – Already discussed in my blog post ‘An apple never falls far from its tree’ https://mrssmusings.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/an-apple-never…-from-its-tree/ its lapped up by my kids and Husband. They come in a huge variety, our favourites being Kudu, Ostrich and Beef – in that order.
– All Gold Tomato Sauce – i deliberately didn’t say Ketchup as they don’t call it that. It has a distinctive taste different from Heinz Tomato Ketchup and is prized amongst South Africans for it being of superior quality. It has no preservatives, colorants or thickener. Squeezed over most things in our house and exported back in our suitcases to continue enjoying at home.
– Their range of crisps or chippies as South Africans say. Tomato Sauce flavoured being the stand out for us ‘Big Corn Bites’ get the thumbs up as do ‘Flings’ – giant beef flavoured maize snacks that are oven baked. Think giant yellow wotsits.
– We also love Tempo Chocolate bars which my husband takes a stash home of and their Zoo biscuits and All Butter Ouma Rusks. The food of God’s.
With all this food and being away from home its easy to fall into the trap of over eating and forgetting your portion sizes, more so after a few glasses of wine so Im careful to reign us in a little and that can be easily done when their salads are so tasty laced with nuts and fruit and lean fish – although Salmon is ridiculously priced out here and their local snoek and haddock are great alternatives all easily cooked on the braai as well so you don’t have to stink your house out.
On the nights we like to venture out to eat in Port Elizabeth which i’ll be honest are in the minority as we still find it easier to eat in rather than out having small children, when we do our favourite family go-to restaurant seems to be Ocean Basket. Kids are welcome and catered for, they have sushi and fresh calamari on the menu cooked multiple ways, they serve wine and beer all at reasonable prices – i say – What’s not to love ?