South African flavorsSpicy, grilled morsels of beef are a highlight of South African food. And they're just the beginning of an intriguing cuisine that comprises Indian curries, Portuguese shrimp, local wines and more.
April 22, 1999
(CNN) -- The diverse cuisine of South Africa, with its grilled meats, sweet chutney and Cape Dutch milk tart, reflects the backgrounds of the many immigrants who have came to this beautiful country in the last 200 years. And little by little, diners in the United States are getting chances to sample authentic South African foods, as new restaurants open.
In Atlanta, the restaurant 10° South prepares the staples of South African cooking, grilling meats of all kinds.
Beef, chicken and other meats are usually marinated in a vinegar preparation, basted in spicy sauces and then "braai-ed," as South Africans call grilling.
For the popular sosaties, morsels of beef are seasoned with a spicy curry sauce and grilled on skewers. Chef Justin Anthony, a former professional football player in South Africa, says his countrymen don't like anything mild.
"Nothing bland," Anthony says. "South Africans do not like bland food. They like a bit of tang, a bit of spice to their food."
And that spice can be a curry, brought to the country with settlements of East Indian people. Or a Malaysian flavoring, a Portuguese garlic sauce, even a Dutch chocolate, from the Afrikaner community.
Anthony sums it up, "International cuisine is the best description."
Many dishes, such as a sweet ground beef curry called bobotie, are topped with a custard and served with sauces on the side. One of the most popular of these is the Indian-influenced Mrs. Ball's Chutney.
For the adventurous diner, 10° South offers Oudtshoorn Ostrich. And Cape Point Kingklip is a prized South African fish, grilled and served with lemon butter.
Much of South Africa's climate is similar to that of northern California -- dry, sunny days and cool nights. Both areas produce fine wines. Chef Anthony particularly likes the pinotage, a vibrant red wine unique to South Africa. He recommends it with a curried dish, or his spicy peri-peri chicken.
Perhaps because there are only a few South African restaurants outside the country, the 10° South menu includes a short description of the nation that inspires the dishes: "A country richly endowed with culture, mineral wealth, natural splendor, wilderness, wildlife, food and drink that is the envy of the world."
Travel Now Correspondent Carolyn O'Neil contributed to this report
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