Stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, dramatic mountain ranges and attractive beaches make South Africa a very desirable location. The country is also a melting pot of a great diversity of cultures which is why it’s fondly nicknamed ‘The Rainbow Nation,’ and it’s this cultural diversity which has had a very strong influence on South African food over the centuries. This in turn has given traditional South African dishes very unique and interesting flavors that shouldn’t be missed. In order to help you discover the food in South Africa, Scout has compiled a food guide with an insight into South African cuisine and where you can spend an enjoyable day or night trying some right here in Savannah.
Let’s start with Biltong [bil-tawng, -tong] which has actually been around for centuries with its roots tracing back to South Africa. In a time before refrigerators and freezers, indigenous people needed a way to preserve extra meat for future meals. To do this, they used the basic resources at hand — knives to cut the meat, salt to flavor and preserve and tree branches to hang the meat until it was dry. It has a beef jerky like consistency but it’s softer and more tender than beef jerky because it’s air-dried at low temperatures for 7 days instead of rapidly dehydrated at high heats like jerky.
Can I try this in Savannah? The answer is yes, Kyle Lipetzky, Executive Chef at JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District serves Biltong charcuterie-board style with craft cheeses, fresh and dried fruits and flatbreads at Plant Riverside’s Baobab Lounge. The Baobab Lounge is actually named after the Baobab tree, which is native to Africa. They proudly feature the fruit from the tree in their signature Nandi’s Punch cocktail, which includes rum, pineapple and lime juice. While you are celebrating the rich history of all the cuisines of Africa, from the Dutch influence to South Africa to Moroccan influence in the north and everything in between you shouldn’t miss Frikkadel. Frikkadel features house-made lamb meatballs served with smoked eggplant dip and stewed sweet peppers. The menu offers these specialties and more, sample a few and get the true culinary experience.
If casual dining is more your thing then check out Zunzibar at 236 Drayton St. (newly opened location on 5/21) because it’s lekker bru! Not only have they been winning awards for years but they have a wide variety of South African menu items. Lekker is slang for tasty or pleasurable and you shouldn’t miss the Lekker spreads which is spreads + pita: (pick 1, 2, 3 or 4) curry chicken salad, smashed avocado, hummus, and ziki sauce. They also have a number of Gatsby sandwiches which is an overstuffed Cape town style sandwich and no matter what you choose to overstuff yours with it’s not complete without saucing it up! Wash it all down with some South African tea and you’ll be sitting back in your chair, rubbing your belly while saying “shit yeah” a favorite phrase of owner Chris Smith. You can order online for takeout or grab yours and sit at one of their outside tables.