Wednesday, June 3, 2009

June 2009 - Republic of South Africa

The first country picked is South Africa, which is actually quite ironic and totally coincidental seeing as three of the four of us, grew up there. South Africa has a huge culinary culture, with influences from Holland, India and other African countries.

South African food is a meat eaters paradise, with the braai or barbeque being the weekend norm for almost all cultures. Meats commonly available in South Africa range from the normal beef, lamb and chicken to the rather more exotic venison, ostrich, crocodile and kudu. Traditional foods include : mopani worms which are usually served deep fried with a crispy outer coating; pap which is a porridge-like mixture of mealie meal; bobotie which is a South African take on shepherd's pie where the mash is replaced by a egg and milk mixture and malva pudding which is the world's best version of a fruity cake with a sweet toffee coating.

Our menu for the South African evening is:
  • Biltong Salad

  • Butternut Bredie with yellow rice

  • Cape Brandy Pudding with custard

The whole menu was delicious!

Biltong is similar to beef jerky but with a distinctive flavour. The meat is cured and dried until the meat is hard on the outside with a slightly moist centre. The biltong was sprinkled over mesclun, baby tomatoes, carrots, spring onions and seeds. A superb sweet dressing was poured over just before serving.

A Bredie is a Cape Malay stew. It is a barrage of flavours - the sweet butternut coated in cinammon and sugar mixes with the cardamom, cloves and ginger in the meat. The trick is to cook the bredie for a long time so that the meat is tender and the flavours are infused into the rich, thick gravy. Rice, cooked in turmeric to make it yellow, with a few raisins added are the usual accompaniment to this style of cooking.

Cape brandy pudding is just delicious. It is a warm cake seeped in brandy and topped with a sugary sauce that will keep the winter chills away. Cape brandy pudding is also known as Tipsy tart because if you eat enough (which I think we all did) you will definitely start feeling the alcohol.