A Meat Lover's Guide to Food in South Africa
In order to truly experience a country, you’ve got to taste it.
We recently spent two weeks in South Africa, and I have to say, I was rather impressed, if not shocked, when Gearoid ordered crocodile carpaccio on the first night we arrived in Johannesburg. He insists the colorless, seemingly slimy meat tasted like chicken, but nonetheless, I declined his offer to try a bite of his starter.
Carnivore Heaven in South Africa
Meat is a big part of most South Africans’ diets and is hardly ever left out of meals. Needless to say, traditional South African dishes don’t appeal much to vegetarians. From red meat to chicken and game, there’s a whole smorgasbord to choose from. The country is a large supplier of meat and is well-known for its top-quality cuts – from karoo-lamb to steak, ostrich and game. It’s also known for meaty delicacies such as biltong, droëwors and boerewors.
Not Your Standard Meat Selection
When visiting South Africa you will more than likely be offered exotic meat. Kudu, springbok and other venison varieties are popular; while warthog and crocodile meat also feature. If you’re not in the mood for reptiles, South African venison is delicious and not such a shock to the palate. Venison is less fatty, but a bit richer, than beef and has a completely different taste.
Most restaurants include game on the menu, from springbok carpaccio to ostrich and “wilder” meats such as kudu and warthog. There are also many restaurants that are specifically known for game meat, such as the aptly named Carnivore in Muldersdrift, Johannesburg. They offer a wide variety, including giraffe, zebra and crocodile – when available of course. Our favorite restaurant in South Africa was Kloof House in Cape Town
Kloof House Restaurant in Cape Town is a must
Kloof Street House is an institution on Kloof Street, with Victorian charm and a magical fairy-lit garden. The menu will please a variety of palates with small plates, sharing platters, interesting starters and generous main courses. If you’re the sharing type, there are all sorts of meze platters for vegetarians and carnivores alike. Starters like the roasted chilli and garlic prawns or gorgonzola and wild mushroom arancini with aioli are well-executed options to start a meal.
Last but not least, braaing- every meat lover’s dream come true
South Africa just wouldn’t be the same without the ever-so-popular braai. Enjoyed among all cultures, braaing is a social event focused around quality meat and good food. Meat is grilled on an open fire, built using wood or charcoal, and guests normally dine outside.
Braaing is the best portrayal of South Africans’ love of meat and socialising, as most households braai at least once a week. We stayed at two safari lodges in South Africa and were lucky enough to enjoy a braai twice - it's something every genuine meat lover should experience at least once and it’s worth travelling to South Africa just to attend one.