Tuesday, May 18, 2010

African delicasies anyone?

Each country we have lived in has some kind of weird food that you are a bit hesitant to try, well... South Africa has it fair share. Some I have tried and some I probably won't try... but hey never say never! :-)

What about these African delicacies?? Interested in trying?? Pan African cuisine is the latest foodie trend in the cultured cities of Africa, serving up dishes from across the continent in all their weird and wonderful varieties, so you like to ride on the flow of the trendsetters?

South Africa is known for its
sour milk, which is often drunk among the Xhosa, Sotho and Zulu people, and is commonly referred to as maas, or amasi. It's a fermented milk that tastes a little like cottage cheese or yoghurt, and is usually eaten with a spoon out of a clay pot. These days however, you can buy it neatly packaged at your local supermarket! It is also popular with Indians who use it to make a cucumber salad served with biryani, or as the main ingredient in raita.
Traditionally, Zulus believe that amasi makes a man strong, healthy and desired. During taboos (e.g. menstruation or when there has been contact with death) the affected person must abstain from amasi. Milk is hardly ever drunk fresh ('green milk'), but it is sometimes used to thin amasi which has gone too thick to be used.

Speaking of sourness, the legendary
Umqombothi (Xhosa) is a heavy, mean-smelling beer, made from maize, sorghum, yeast and water. It actually doesn't have a very high alcohol content, but when I tried it into a local shebeen on my Soweto tour I couldn't stop saying 'yeeeurrrghhh!' I mean, I am not a beer lover anyway, but this is nasty stuff! Umqombothi is considerably less expensive than traditional "clear" beer, that is, beer brewed from barley. We also had to drink it out of a recycled milk carton, shared by a few others... which wasn't my cup of tea.. so to speak! But hey it is cheap and gives you a high!

African cuisine has a number of mouth-watering delicacies, which
don't involved eating termites or buffalo intestines. Venison, particularly in South Africa, comes in many forms, with the most popular being springbok, kudu, gemsbok, ostrich, warthog, all of which can be eaten as biltong (dried strips of meat, seasoned with spices, similar - but much better than - beef jerky).

For a more exotic taste, travellers to Africa can enjoy elephant or crocodile steak, a traditional skilpadjie (sheep's liver wrapped in fat or bacon), and of course a mopane worm or two!

Preparation ~ Rule number one: empty the body by squeezing out the juices from the worm. Don’t worry, by the time you buy the worms from the market this has already be done for you…haha!

The most common thing that will happen to the squeezed worms is that they get dried and end up in a bucket on the market from which they get sold. You can eat the dried worm without a problem. Although the taste is not bad (a mix between vacuum cleaner dust and a peanut) the dry texture can be unpleasant for some. Another way of preparing them is by soaking them in water and later stir-fry them with oil and some garlic. Next time you are in Africa and it is worm-season. Go for it and give it a try. Let me know what you think! I haven't tried it, and I am thinking that I am not going to try it for as long as I don't need to!!

There are other local foods that aren't as adventurous, but better sounding to me, like Bobotie, vetkoek, boerewors and sosaties, just to name a few.

What about you, are you the type that likes to eat and try all those exotic snacks??

Have a Terrific Tuesday!


plantagenet said...

mopane worms have been offered once at one of those cultural meetings. And :they taste well.... believe it or not IF they are grilled...Like your post very much. Missed looking at your site.

Maci Miller said...

I am clearly not as exotic as you and the real foodies out there! The thought of eating worms is super-yuk to me and yet I am a lover of escargot! Go figure? Still, it's cool that you learn all the local foods and post about it. Happy eating! For me, I am happy to eat Jeff's chilly he is preparing tonight! :-)

Annie said...

I might try a few, but not many! Jacob however, would probably try them all!


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