4 Places to Taste Traditional Africa
Tasting another country's food is one of the most enriching cultural experiences one can have while visiting abroad. I've had multi-cultural experiences my whole life, being born in a family where my parents are from different countries. We grew up tasting Venezuelan deliciousness and mixing them with Costa Rican traditions. Now I live in South Africa; I've been here for 8 years and still find new things to try and new places to explore.
South Africa is one of the biggest economies in Africa. People from other African countries come here looking for a better life; sadly, poverty is rampant in Africa and opportunities are better in South Africa. Not only that, but people from all over the world come to visit this wonderful and beautiful place.
I was lucky enough to have my mom and my sister visiting me for a month recently. They came to help me out with the baby, and I couldn't be more grateful! As you may know, my baby was born prematurely on January 25th. It's been a journey since then: she spent 55 days at the NICU and it was a most stressful time! But having the support from family during such trying times has no price.
The one thing one has to experience here is African food. We took our mom, who was very open-minded, to visit a traditional African restaurant to try some exotic dish. We were looking to mopane worms, but despite what popular culture would tell you, they are not readily available and they are not eaten as casual snacks by South Africans, except in rural areas or specialized restaurants. My husband, who is South African, have tried them and says they taste a bit nutty. That remark made me think about a documentary I saw once about this group of people visiting an ancient tribe in the Amazon. They were offered grilled tarantula and of course, out of courtesy and respect, they had to accept, and the general consensus was "it has a nutty taste".
Here are just a few places where you can have a remarkable African experience in Cape Town:
With that in mind, we went to one of Cape Town's favourite traditional food restaurants, Moyo, in search for the famous M0pane worms or whatever exotic dish they had. Despite my 8 years in Cape Town, I've never been to Moyo, but I knew they offered a very special and unique treat: face painting with traditional Xhosa patterns. By the way, the Xhosa people are the second most populous ethnic group in South Africa, and their name holds two very interesting meanings, depends on who you ask: some say it was the name of a mighty king, and others say it's the name the San people (the original inhabitants of South Africa) gave them, meaning "fierce" or "angry". I really encourage you to read about South Africa and its people, you won't believe how interesting is!
Back to Moyo, and since they didn't have mopane worms on their menu, we decided to go with another African delicacy: crocodile tails! Oh yes. I couldn't believe it either when I saw it on the menu, but yes, they serve "Crocodile Tails Cakes", and according to the menu: "Diced crocodile tail in a creamy mustard filling, baked in puff pastry and presented with a pineapple and orange salsa, and a rocket and red onion salad". I have to say I didn't have the guts to eat a whole pie, even though they are the size of a small muffin and all I can say it's tastes like bread. Following that, we asked for a bread platter which features Tunisian and Moroccan flatbread with a very hot dip, a lamb curry and Morrocan chicken.
We visited Mzoli's Place to celebrate the birthday of a friend from work. It was a new experience for many of us new to Cape Town, truly remarkable, and at times, quite shocking. It is located in the Gugulethu township, and you have to bring your own side dishes, drinks and cutlery, otherwise you will find yourself eating with your hands! Their speciality is the meat which you buy from them and it will be prepared in a braai, which is a South African barbeque. It is a very popular place and it's actually quite hard to find a place to sit. Other than the cultural shock and the lack of seats, we came here for the food and it was quite good!
Africa and Africans should be proud of their heritage, which I find to be extraordinary. At Gold Restaurant, you can have an incredible African experience, with traditional dances and performances from all over Africa.
Perhaps the most known African restaurant around here, it is located in the city centre and besides the awesome food, including a variety of wild game such as springbok, kudu and warthog, they have a live African marimba band playing every night at 8.
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