How do South Africans typically eat their meals?

Introduction: South African cuisine

South African cuisine is a reflection of the country’s diverse culinary traditions, influenced by its history of colonization, immigration, and indigenous cultures. South African cuisine is known for its hearty and flavorful dishes, combining elements from African, Indian, Dutch, Malay, and British cuisines. The country’s diverse geography and climate also contribute to the availability of a variety of fresh produce, meats, and seafood, which are used in many South African dishes.

Breakfast: a hearty start to the day

South Africans typically start their day with a hearty breakfast that includes a combination of hot and cold dishes. Some popular breakfast items include eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, grilled tomatoes, toast, and cereal. A traditional South African breakfast dish is called ‘pap,’ a porridge made from maize meal, which is served with a variety of toppings such as milk, butter, sugar, or fruit. Coffee and tea are also popular beverages to accompany breakfast.

Lunch: quick and satisfying

South Africans often have a quick and satisfying lunch, especially during the workweek. Lunches may consist of sandwiches, salads, and fast food options such as burgers, pizza, and fried chicken. A typical South African lunch item is ‘bunny chow,’ a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curry. In some regions, street food such as boerewors rolls (grilled sausage in a bread roll) and vetkoek (deep-fried dough filled with savory or sweet fillings) are popular lunch options.

Dinner: the main event

Dinner is considered the main event of the day in South Africa and is often a time for families and friends to gather and enjoy a meal together. Traditional South African dishes such as bobotie (a Cape Malay dish made with spiced minced meat topped with an egg custard), potjiekos (a stew cooked in a cast-iron pot over an open fire), and bredie (a slow-cooked meat and vegetable dish) are often served for dinner. Western-style dishes such as steak, roast chicken, and pasta are also popular.

Snacks: biltong, boerewors and more

South Africans love their snacks, and there are a variety of options to choose from. Biltong (dried and cured meat), droëwors (dried sausage), and boerewors (spicy sausage) are popular snack items. Other snacks include samoosas (deep-fried pastry filled with savory fillings), vetkoek filled with savory mince or cheese and jam, and chips (crisps) in flavors such as salt and vinegar, BBQ, and peri-peri.

Traditions: braai, potjiekos and Sunday lunch

South Africans have a strong food culture, and many traditions revolve around food. One of the most popular traditions is the braai, or barbecue, where meat is grilled over an open flame. Potjiekos, a stew cooked in a cast-iron pot over an open fire, is another traditional dish that often accompanies a braai. Sunday lunch is also a significant tradition, where families gather to enjoy a large meal together, often featuring roasted meats, potatoes, and vegetables.

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Written by John Myers

Professional Chef with 25 years of industry experience at the highest levels. Restaurant owner. Beverage Director with experience creating world-class nationally recognized cocktail programs. Food writer with a distinctive Chef-driven voice and point of view.

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