The flavour of street food in South Africa varies as much as the number of nationalities that live here and the towns and suburbs you live in. But there are certain foods that can be found wherever large numbers of blue collar people work. The food is generally cheap, tasty and filling. It may not be as nutritious as Jamie Oliver would like but it will set you up for the day and saves you having to spend money and time cooking it yourself.
The simplest meal is braaied mealies, or corn-on-the-cob as Americans call it. It comes in either small chunks or as a whole cob. Either way, cooked over the open fire, carrying the smoky smell of wood fire, it’s amazingly delicious. It doesn’t take long to cook either. The one snag is if it’s not sweet-corn but is rather a standard mealie, which can be tough and just a little more than chewy. Traditional South African Bunny chow
Much more substantial is a bunny chow. Which has nothing to do with rabbits. Or at least not very often. Bunny chow is also called just a bunny. A quarter loaf of bread, which has had the centre scooped out, is filled with curry. A meatless curry bunny is called a beans bunny. A take-away version will have the lid of the bread put back on, but if you choose to eat it sitting down then the bunny will be served with Sambals and pap. (Which for non-South Africans is pronounced ‘pup’.) If you ask for a knife and fork be prepared to be sniggered at, if not openly laughed at. It’s finger-food.
Because it’s so filling, bunny chows usually come in quarters, but they can also be ‘halves’ or ‘full’. The Sowetan version of a bunny chow is a kota (quarter). It’s pretty much the same thing except for the filling. A kota comes stuffed with hot chips, fried polony and sometimes a Russian sausage or two.
African Staple Diet
Pap forms part of the staple diet of Africa, certainly southern Africa. In Zimbabwe, it’s called sadza (sudza). Refined mealie-meal flour is mixed with water or milk in a pot and cooked over a medium heat, stirring all the while until the pap is cooked. The end result looks a lot like mashed potato but is a lot stiffer. Its function, apart from filling hungry bellies, is to act as a sop for the gravy. Personally, this appeals to me about as much as eating brains, but then I’m very much a knife and fork kinda girl. Pap and grev (gravy) is about the only vegetarian food traditional black South African males will eat. And I use the term vegetarian so loosely its pants will fall down. Although that’s probably a tad unfair. The gravy, also known as chakalaka, does have baked beans, tomatoes, onions and garlic in it. It can be mild or spiced up with curry paste. The end result can be so hot that thick sour milk or amasi will be served alongside it.
Traditional Boerie Roll
A Saturday morning special is a Boerie Roll. A thick piece of borewors cooked to perfection along with golden, shiny onion strings stuffed into a fresh, floury, white hot dog roll, smothered in mustard or tomato sauce is hard to resist. And the half drum braais are always cunningly set up so you have no choice but to pass them as you head into the supermarket – if they don’t get you on the way in, they will on the way out – the hardware-store or the garage. I’m not sure if this is just a South African thing but most street food can also be bought, hot, at the petrol station.
The guys from Saffatrading brought you this blog write-up. Saffatrading is the purveyors of fine South African foods. Saffatrading is an online food shopthat hails from the Western Cape of South Africa. There is about 2 million South African living overseas. If you one of them then click on the link above and visit our online food store and buy all your favourite goodies like biltong, marmite, droewors, Oros mix, samba Ghost pops and even the newest Fair lady.